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THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 



*' Hominum Dhomque Voluptas 



trOKKS BY THE SAME AUTHOR 



THE SILKEN EAST: A Record of 
Life and Travel in Burma ; in 2 
vols. 

MANDALAY and other old cities of 
Burma ; in I vol. 

TRAVELS IN THE PYRENEES; 
including Andorra and the Coast 
from Barcelona to Carcassonne. 

THE SCENE OF WAR. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/charmofkashmirOOoconuoft 



ASOKA, WHO BY THE WHITE STUCCO OF HIS FAME MADE 
SPOTLESS THE UNIVERSE 



THE 

CHARM OF KASHMIR 



BY 



V. C. SCOTT O'CONNOR 

AUTHOR OF 'THE SILKEN EAST' 



IVITH 16 COLOURED PLATES AND 
U ILLUSTRATIONS FROM PHOTOGRAPHS 



LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO. 

39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON 

FOURTH AVENUE & 30TH STREET, NEW YORK 

BOMBAY, CALCUTTA, AND MADRAS 

1920 



JUN 1 ?> 1967 



> 



THIS BOOK IS 

BY THE QUEEN'S GRACIOUS PERMISSION 
DEDICATED TO HER MAJESTY 



CONTENTS 



Prelude 



PAGE 
1 



BOOK I. THE VALLEY 

OHAPTBB 

I. The Water Gate - - . . 

II. The Wular Lake .... 

III. Night at Manasbal .... 

rV. Approach to Srinagar - - . . 

V. Entering the City - - 

VI. First Morning at Srinagar ... 

VII. The Capital 

VIII. The Dal Lake ..... 

IX. The Nishat Bagh .... 

X. Chasha Shahi ..... 

XI. The Nasim Bagh ..... 

XII. Hazrat Bal ..... 

XIII. The Shaumar ..... 

XrV. The Isle of Chinars .... 

XV. Habbak ---... 

XVI. Tyl Bal 

XVII. Nagina Bagh ..... 

XVIII. Solomon's Throne .... 

XIX. Asoka's City ..... 

XX. Manas Bal ..... 



13 

17 

21 

25 

29 

33 

37 

49 

55 

61 

65 

67 

71 

77 

79 

81 

85 

87 

91 

95 



BOOK 11. THE MOUNTAINS 
I. Floating down the River ... 
II. Morning at Gunderbal. ... 

III. Gunderbal ..... 



108 
107 
109 



CONTENTS 



Vlll 

PA6B 

rV. First March ..-----■ 

„ ^, 115 

V. Kanoan - - - - - 

VI. The Beauty of the Sind Valiey ... - - 11 

128 



VII. SONAMABG - - - 

VIII. Baltal - 

IX. Amar Nath 

X. The Zogi-la 

XI. Towards Haramukh 
XII. The Temples of Vangat 

XIII. Tronkhal by Haramukh 

XIV. NUND KOL 

XV. The Frozen Waters 
XVI. The Erin Valley 
XVII. Conclusion of the Journey 

EPILOGttE - - - 



NOTE 

Quotations from Eastern poets such as Abu'1-Ala are 

for the most part taken from translations in "The 

Wisdom of the East" series. 



129 
188 
141 
145 
151 
157 
161 
167 
178 
175 
179 



|b ILLUSTRATIONS 

Foreword : In this book an attempt is made to capture the charm of 
one of the acknowledged beauty-spots of the world ; but charm is essen- 
tially an elusive quality, not easily trapped in a net of words. Pictures 
have therefore been added, and a brief introduction to those which embellish 
this volume may not be deemed out of place. 

The place of honour will be rightly assigned to the paintings of Aban- 
INDRO Nath Tagore, whosc work as the founder and inspirer of the modern 
school of Indian Art at Cglcutta, has attracted wide attention, not only 
in India, but in Paris, in London, and in New York. The grace, softness, 
and beauty of line which characterise his work speak for themselves ; and 
the qualities of Vision and of Poetic insight which are displayed in the 
examples before us, require that they shall be considered as something more 
than mere Illustrations. 

They are interpretations in colour of the soul of Kashmir in so far 
as it finds expression in these pages, and they depict something more than 
the external beauty that is acknowledged by the eye of every traveller in 
that exquisite country. 

Next after these come the paintings of Mrs. Sultan Ahmad, Miss 
Hadenfeldt, and the late Colonel Strahan. 

Colonel Strahan's work is well known in India. He was a great traveller, 
and his countrymen in India, many of whom treasure specimens of his skill 
with the brush, will be glad to see some of them included in this volume. 

Miss Hadenfeldt has spent the last five years in the Happy Valley, and 
she is intimately familiar with its scenery and characteristics. The decora- 
tive beauty of her pictures, made specially to illustrate the text, will appeal 
to all who know the country and take pleasure in originality and freshness 
of outlook. 

Mrs. Svdtan Ahmad's pictures fall into another category. Like Aban- 
indro Nath Tagore, she would reach the spirit that lies hidden behind the 



IX 



X ILLUSTRATIONS 

glow of colour and the splendour of the world in Kashmir. In the two 
pictures she has contributed to this volume, there stand revealed the lustre 
of Day, when the world is going about its business; and the mystery of 
Night, when the dark Canals are veiled in shadows. They are symbolic 
of the East, where Life and Death jostle each other, and Secrecy and 
Candour go hand in hand. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



COLOURED PLATES 



ARTIST. 



"ASOKA, WHO BY THE WhITE StUCCO OF HIS FaME 

HADE Spotless the Universe " - 



A. N. Tagore, CLE. Frontispiece 
G. Hadenfeldt - To face p. 30 



L. Sultan Ahmad - 



Noonday Peace 

Day : — ^The Apple Tree Canal - - - 

Night : — The Mar Canal L. Sultan Ahmad - 

Nishat , - ■ - A. N. Tagore, CLE. 

Chashha-Shahi A. N. Tagore, CLE. 

Nasim A. N. Tagore, CLE. 

Night at the Shaubiar — The Emperor Shah Jahan A. N. Tagore, CLE. 

Fate and the Pleasure-lover - - - - A. N. Tagore, CLE. 

Travellers in Kashmir G. Hadenfeldt 

The Lidar Vallejy Col. G. Strahan - 

A Beauty of the Valley G. Hadenfeldt 

The Waning Light Col. G. Strahan - 

Nanga Parbat : across the Valley - - - Col. G. Strahan - 

Lake Land Col. G. Strahan - 

The Shepherd G. Hadenfeldt 



88 

88 

54 

61 

66 

75 

78 

95 

108 

117 

189 

145 

166 

175 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

FROM PHOTOGRAPHS 

Spring in the Upland Valleys To 

Ruins of the Temple of Avantisvami Vishnu at Avantipura (a.d. 854-888) 

Poling on the Wular 

The Shepherd's Daughter 

An Idyll of the Vale 

Brahmans of Kashmir 

Friends at the Shalimar 

The Shalimar 

Morning Scene at the Takht-i-Sulaiman. The City and the Lakes a 
Thousand Feet below 

Fish-Spearing on the Lakes 

The Birth of a River 

The Sindh Valley -- 

The Glaciers of Thagwaz 

The Haji 

The Pilgrim Camp of the Maharaja 

The Maharaja as a Pilgrim 

The Zogi-la Pass 

Sheep in the Anoent Temples 

High Solitudes 

The Bakrwal 

The First Flock of the Year 

The Flock at Peace 

The Breaking of the Ice at Nund Kol 

Mountain Pastures 



face p. 



XI 



6 
9 
18 
19 
26 
57 
68 
71 

88 
98 
108 
112 
125 
180 
183 
188 
148 
152 
157 
160 
162 
164 
172 
176 



NOTE 

Half of these plates are from photographs taken 
by the Author ; for the rest he is indebted to 
the kindness of Miss Aurilla Boyer ; to Messrs. 
Shorter, Bremner, and Vernon ; to the Kashmir 
State; and to the Thomason College. 



I 



" This Land in the womb of Himalaya." 

Kalhana. 

ft 

"The most delicious spot in Asia or in the World." 

Elphinstone. 

" The Paradise of the Indies." 

Francois Beenier. 

" Learning, lofty houses, saffron, icy-water and grapes : things that 
even in Heaven are difficult to find, are common there." . . . 

" And the sun shines mildly there even in summer, in this place 
created by Kashyapa as if for his glory." 

Kalhaka. 

" Its flowers are enchanting and fill the heart with delight. Violets, 
the red-rose, and the wild narcissus cover the plains. Its Spring and 
Autumn are extremely beautiful." 

Abul Fazl. 

" The valley to the Kashmiris was a rock-bound prison from which 
escape was difficult. The great snow-mountains suggested nothing to 
them beyond the hopelessness of flight from* tyranny." 

Sir Walter Lawrence. 

" All the people I send into Kashmir turn out rascals ; there is too 
much pleasure and enjoyment in that country," 

Ranjit Singh. 



THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 



PRELUDE 

(I) 
The 24th of April, and I find myself on the road to Kashmir. For a 
thousand miles my journey lies across the plain of India, that spreads here 
like a sea. Somewhere above me upon the northern Horizon, there climbs 
towards Heaven, the mighty wall of the Himalaya, yet hidden as completely 
from sight, as though it had never been. A traveller who came here at this 
season might see all of India, and yet leave it unaware of the greatest 
mountains in the world. So easily are Facts concealed. 

How smooth too and level is this plain ! as though Nature having 
exhausted her constructive purpose in the building of the mountains was 
content to lie idle at their feet in the negation of all further effort. No 
incident breaks its level monotony ; and at this season of the year it is 
white with dust, and grey with the desolation of Asia. 

White columns of dust drive like the phantoms of a dying world along 
it's highways ; and a cloud of dust hangs like a shroud over the fields and 
cities. In the vague distance one can trace, as in a dream, the faint outlines 
of a City ; the walls and towers of some Feudal stronghold, or Caravan-Serai 
of the Emperors ; for it was here along this track that they pursued their 
way, with a pomp and splendour unsurpassed in the history of the World, 
from the Imperial Capital to their secluded vale of Kashmir. 

Nearer at hand, where the veil of light and incandescent dust is less 
intense, one can glimpse a few pictures of the life of the people who inhabit 
this strange world ; pictures of Ruth gleaning in the shorn fields, of cattle 
feeding in the stubble, of a flock of sheep following their shepherd in a 



2 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

cloud of separate dust, as one sees them on the heat-ridden plains of 
La Mancha or Castile ; and nearer still, of Persian wheels droning their 
music of toil, and splashing their crystal waters in the vivid sunlight, under 
the shelter of tree Oases, green as nothing else is, by favour of The Well. 
At the Railway Stations through which the trains pass, over metals whose 
unbending directness and iron devotion to the service of these people are 
symbolic of the race which now governs India, one sees the people clustered, 
waiting for carriage, visibly rejoicing in the abundant flow of free and pure 
water that sparkles and foams at the taps. The key-note of the scene 
is Thirst, and the whole world here would die, and the trains would cease 
to run, and men would vanish from this surface of the earth, as they have 
vanished from other once populous centres of Asia, were it not for the sub- 
terranean flow which the wells reveal, and for the mighty rivers, which 
wander hungrily over these spaces that even they cannot fill. 

Thirst and Heat and the Desolation of Asia .' 

Who coming here would suspect that within a hundred miles of all 
this weariness and dun monotony, there hangs, halfway as it were 'twixt 
heaven and earth, the freshest and most lovely valley in the World ? Yet 
in the white glare, we cross the very waters of that river whose birth-place 
and vernal youth are in that valley ; the River of so many conquerors 
since Alexander, of so many poets, since he who sang in far-off Rome of 
the fabulous Hydaspes. 

* 

In the early dawn we are on the road to the Mountains, each moment 
nearer to us, as the swift Daimler swallows space ; and in half an hour 
from the Railway, we are caught in the sinuous toils of the Foot-hills. It 
is a road flanked in its lower courses by golden corn-fields and green avenues 
of trees, and trodden by guns and infantry and cavalry on the march, and 
fine upstanding men and splendid women. Here we are in the cradle of 
a martial breed, the heirs of centuries of invasion and war. The men are 
virile with lithe erect bodies and a direct gaze ; some harnessed to the business 
of war in the Empire's khaki and scarlet, others sickle in hand, bending 
to the wind-blown corn, tying their sheaves of gold, or cracking their 



PRELUDE 3 

carters' whips along the white highway. And the women are good to look 
upon, straight of feature, erect as lances, full-bosomed and stately to the 
world. 

(II) DOMEL 

When vvc drove up to the staging bungalow and I looked down upon 
it, embroidered in pink roses and half-hidden under trees, by the shores 
of the rushing Jhilam whose great music filled the valley, it took my heart 
so, that I wished to stay here and bring my journey to an end ; and now 
that I must go forward, since life is but a journey, I leave it with a pang 
of more than passing regret. For the place is one of a sweet and intimate 
beauty, yet upon the edge of great world-forces ; of an ancient river whose 
fame was spread over the world when the world was still young and had 
an ear for mysteries, and of a line of mighty mountains, ' the Abode of 
Snow ' ; the manifest Valhalla of the Gods. 

Late last night when the silver clouds had dispersed and the Moon 
shone in the high vault of Heaven overhead, I stepped into the garden 
whose paths were soft with the fallen lilac bloom, and dappled with shade 
and light, and I walked for an hour by the high stone terraces, and down 
the stairways, and along the rose-hedges, whose clustering pink coloured 
the night and filled it with their soft unobtrusive perfume ; and so to the 
great retaining wall which fronts the threatening river, and keeps it 
at bay, as do the great cliffs opposite. All night its vast susurrus of 
music passed through my sleep like the distant tones of an organ, and I 
slept at peace. 

And now in the morning with the clouds of yesterday all fled, and 
the sky very blue over the valley, it is hard, as I have said, to leave this 
exquisite and fragrant spot ; which without its eastern glamour might 
be a Pyrenean valley, or a meeting-place of waters in the Tyrol ; as at 
Brixen, where the rivers rush and mingle and the felled timber floats with 
a mad buoyancy upon the raging tide. 

I have walked under the chintz-like bloom and delicate foliage of the 
Indian Lilacs, which make long avenues here, and I have listened to the 
voices of innumerable birds, ringing with the amorous ecstasies of Spring. 



4 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

Here is Nature abounding with life and creative purpose ; and the flights 
of cheerful starlings, the half-silent and elusive dayals, the little garden- 
warblers, convey the same sense of a prolific and out-pouring Life, that 
the roses do, falling upon each other in their thousands, drooping over 
the railings and fences and the cut-stone walls, half-hiding an English 
homestead, and blooming in their prolific abundance even upon the gables 
and walls of this Posting House, as though they would lure the traveller 
to dally by the way side, and take his share of the joy of life. 

Domel — ^the mingling of two — bears this elemental name, because 
the Jhilam and the Kishengunga meet here ; and it needs little imagination 
to understand why amongst all primitive people the union of waters is a 
mingling of the Gods. For here are passion and might, the out-pouring 
of life, the symbolic act of creation. Standing here in the sun-light, on 
the low grassy shore of the Jhilam by the suspension bridge, one can see 
it coming exultantly along with the strength of many lions, dashing with 
its masculine beauty and joyousness into the laughing vivid Kishengunga ; 
and thence rushing on for a space shoulder to shoulder with her but still 
apart, till a little further under the cliffs, their waters mingle and the streams 
become one. 

One sees from here so many things that quicken the imagination ; the 
statue of the God there graven in stone upon the pillars of the bridge ; the 
grey and grim old Mogul Serai, with its grand air and lofty Porte, where 
the Emperors encamped — in marked contrast with the domestic English 
peace and beauty of the Bungalow ; the sunlight gleaming upon the white 
houses of Mozufferabad as upon some hill-town of Italy, the blue mountains 
and shining lustre of snow, the wild pomegranate, red as the lips of Anarkali, 
and the Oleander her lover made his horsemen wear in their plumes as 
they marched up the valleys to Kashmir. 

And yet when all is said, the sentiment of this place is neither of India, 
nor of Asia, nor of any named corner of the world ; but just of one of those 
fragrant and exquisite spots where waters meet, and birds sing, and flowers 
bloom, and trees are heavy with shade, and the seclusion is unbroken by 
grace of the high encompassing mountains. 



PRELUDE S 

(III) GARIII 

Thirteen miles along the Jhilam river, through lilac avenues that shimmer 
and meet overhead, bring one to an Elysian haunt, known as the Bungalow of 
Garhi. ^ut here I had a singular conviction that I had dropped into a 
corner of old France. This was after I had breakfasted, and fell a dreaming 
in the secluded garden, where a round table stood in the centre, laden with 
the lilac drift. There was an outer circle of wooden benches ranged about 
it, one of which was crimson with the fallen petals of a Rambler — Nature's 
pot-pourri — while other Roses drooped in luxuriant bloom, their burden with 
difficulty upheld by wooden props. Their perfume filled the garden with 
its richness, and was blown by the breezes over the walls to the high road 
along which the world passed on its way. A young Plane tree — ^the first 
of the Kashmir chinars — flung her deep and abundant shade over a part of 
the house, and made of her grace a lovely portal to the garden. Outside, 
the green bare Pyrenean forms of the mountains towered into the sky on 
one hand, while upon the other the river, unseen but heard, like the murmur 
of the wind, flowed upon its destined way. Upon every branch of the 
Lilac trees, and in the Rose bushes, there was a bird singing with all the joy 
of spring in his throat, and anon the great Ravens came and flung their 
sombre shadows over the garden, and broke its music of wind and water 
and song with their loud sinister notes. In the Pyrenees, I remembered, 
each of them is still believed to embody the soul of a departed Saracen. . . . 

It was of France as I have said that this garden, run to weed a little, 
exuberant with its own abundant fertiUty, full of whispers of summer days 
and fading roses, somehow reminded me. 

There were I noticed wild strawberries growing about the benches 
amidst the clover ; there were mulberries and figs and a cypress tree, while 
the hollyhocks clustered like a nursery of children about the knees of the 
table, touching its very rim ; and there was an old dog who came along 
unobtrusively wagging his tail and lay down in the clover and the lilac 
drift, meekly thankful for anj^hing I had to give him. 

I was so pleased with the soft summer airs of this garden, and its note 
as of a place haunted with tranquil memories, that I sat very silent in it. 



6 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

and half closed my eyes the better to learn its character ; and I must have 
done so for some minutes, when an old woman in a check apron, with a hand- 
kerchief over her silvery hair, and wooden shoes to her feet, came down the 
pathway under the plane tree and wished me a good day. 

" And where," I said, " is Monsieur ? " 

" Monsieur,'" she said softly, and yet with a touch of fire in her voice, 
" est d la guerre" and with this she looked wistfully about her at the fallen 
petals and the shadow of neglect that lay upon the garden. " Mais la 
patrie . . . la patrie. Monsieur ..." and with this her voice broke and she 
could say no more. Upon which I awoke, for I must have slumbered in 
these moments stolen from a day of travel, — to find the driver standing be- 
side me, with his battered bugle and professional air, and a suggestion that 
we should go upon our way. 

(IV) UB.I 

At Uri I passed the night. The Post-House here was less charming 
perhaps than those at Garhi or Domel. There was no secluded garden here, 
the roses were less abimdant, and the season being later at this elevation, 
for we had climbed two thousand feet from Domel, they were not yet in 
bloom. The high stern mountains, the river rushing far down in the narrow 
valley, the freshness and verdure of the meadows and the fields, intersected 
by channels of water ; all these took me back to Spain and Andorra ; and 
the snow-spangled summits of the greater moimtains might have been those 
I looked upon one summer day when first I entered the little Republic. 

But how different is the temper of the people ! There they would die 
rather than yield up their pride and their independence of a thousand years ; 
here they are a people whose spirit, crushed under centuries of misrule, is 
only now timidly lifting its head from the dust. 

I walked for an hour in the village lanes, and passing a lovely chinar 
tree, came to a new mosque that was nearly completed for prayer. Here 
I met the Maulvi and some Elders who invited me to enter and look within. 
Built of timber and stone, with carved windows of arabesque designs that 
linked with their subtle harmonies this little village chapel with the per- 
fection of the Generalife, it was of two stories, with a slight inner stair- 



PRELUDE 7 

case leading from the one to the other ; the one I was told for use in summer, 
the other in winter. The timber was a free gift from the Maharajah, who, 
with a true Hindu feeling, has a soft heart for all religions ; and the labour, 
save that of the Master Builder, had been given as of love by the Moslems 
of the valley ; so that the mosque has cost them very little in money. Its 
design was charming and very happily adapted to its mountain environ- 
ment. It took the place of an older mosque, which had died of age, and its 
very foundations were set amidst the earthen graves of bygone generations. 

" I have seen just such a Mosque in use amongst the Mussulmans of 
China," I observed ; and they wondered at their Faith being spread so far 
abroad ; and with that note of communal affection which is so character- 
istic of Islam, they asked : 

" And are they well entreated by the King of China ? " 

I replied that it might be so now ; but that in the past they had suffered 
much persecution. Whereupon they shook their heads sadly, as those not 
unacquainted with sorrow, and said gratefully enough : 

" It is not so under the benign rule of our Emperor of London. Since 
you came here our Fate has changed, and our Religion, our Lands, and our 
Women have been left inviolate. We know well to whom we owe this 
change, and we are grateful." 

As I walked on by a little stream, under a hedge of young poplars, I came 
upon an Ancient, a visiting Saint from the capital ; one of those devout but 
seemingly idle people, for whose existence there seems so little justification 
in the pages of a statistical work ; yet it occurred to me that this man's pres- 
ence might well bring with it something of a benediction ; for his mien and 
voice were gentle, and his large dark eyes shone with humanity. Here I 
observed was no fanatic of Islam ; but a timid old Philosopher, with the 
heart of a child. 

In the rice-fields here and there, in its lordly beauty and isolation, stood 
a chinar tree, mighty of girth and old at its base, but satin-bodied and young 
above, with its wealth of drooping foliage. 

"It was there," said the Saint, "when I was a child and as high and as big 
as it is now. It belongs to another and a bygone age and was planted by 
some dead Sultan." 



8 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

A boy of nine or ten — though he could make no guess at his age — spoke 
to me of his heart's ambition to become a pubUc servant. 

" What would you like to be ? " I enquired. 

" Ah ! " he said with a singular sweetness and beauty of expression, 
such as you might look for on the face of a young girl dreaming of the unknown 
lover—" I cannot tell ! " 

If his mother when she bore him was as beautiful as he, with his lustrous 
eyes, and deprecatory air, and finely-cut features, she must have been a joy 
in his father's eyes. 

At Uri the morning broke fresh and exquisite, with the crisp freshness 
of mountain air ; and the world shone new-minted after recent rain. While 
the horses were being brought up, I walked upon the village green, where the 
ardent golfer drives his first ball in Kashmir. It was set about with English 
cottages and slim Poplars, and over it was a sky of blue, and upon all the 
circle of the valley there were mountains, enclosing in their dark and sunlit 
folds, white gleaming shapes of snow. One of these shone above the old 
Fort of Uri and its loopholed walls, another loftier and of a keener gleam 
looked over the valley of the river towards Kashmir. Under the rising sun 
there was a wide expanse of rock-hewn peaks and soft billowing fields of 
snow ; and behind me the river plunged on its way to sea. The crystal 
clearness of the air, the emerald freshness of the grass, the wonderful 
sensation of a world upborne in security and peace, were such as one 
may enjoy in a mountain land alone, when the winter is over and gone 

and the voice of spring is calling in the valleys. 

* * 
* 

From Uri one soon passes into the fellowship of the great mountains, 
with their blue forests of Deodars and their high and mighty cliffs of Basalt, 
which rise from the swirling river like the breast-works of a Titanic world. 
From afar off through the sequestered gloom of deep gorges, there descend 
in white foam, as in a dream, long waterfalls, and at their base spread 
velvet meadows and camping grounds under the shade of the Cedar trees. 
In the midst of these wonders of nature, whose gigantic character alone 
would impress the imagination, one is suddenly confronted with the first of 
the classical temples of Kashmir. 



PRELUDE 9 

It stands by the wayside, where from immemorial days the world has 
passed ; and its beauty impinges upon one with the clear flash and sword- 
stroke of the human brain. It is so small a thing in its environment ; yet it 
dominates all, as a beam of light in a great chamber. It has many graces 
of colour and form, and time has laid its hand upon it, softening its lines 
and yielding up to it some of the wistfulness of the departed centuries ; 
but its principal quality is that which descends to it from the Greek genius. 
That is unmistakeable. 

How, or by what wondrous paths, the Hellenic spirit inspired these early 
buildings in this far-withdrawn valley is something of a mystery ; but that 
it did inspire them, no man can doubt. 

The spirit of Islam, the worship of the One God, which have given us 
so much that is clear and sublime and touched with emotion, the Pagan 
fecundity of Hinduism which has lavished its skill upon a thousand intricacies 
of carving, and created generations of craftsmen ; the Roman grandeur of 
our own great bridges, which hold in their iron grasp the passion of our 
Indian rivers, these are things familiar upon the face of the Indian Peninsula ; 
but it is here, unexpectedly, in the mountain fastnesses, that one is met by 
this sudden and overwhelming claim of the Hellenic mind. Even in this 
its derivative form, it seizes upon one here, and gives this little wayside 
temple, lordship over all the majesty of the hills. 



i> 



BOOK I 

THE VALLEY 



CHAPTER I 

THE WATER GATE 

Baramulla is the one exit for the waters of Kashmir, the cleft in the moun- 
tains which emptied the valley of its Lake and so gave birth to its varied beauty. 
It is thus one of the dramatic gateways of the world ; and no man can pass 
down the still waters of the river — the classic Vitasta — of a summer evening, 
to the point at which its life is suddenly accelerated like a tragic crisis in a 
quiet life, without being deeply moved by the spectacle ; but the approach 
to it from below is unimpressive. One enters it as it were through an ante- 
chamber which is called by the people ' Little Kashmir.' The cliffs of 
basalt, the dark pointing forests of Deodar which seize and impress the 
imagination at Rampur, are left behind, and the landscape falls to level and 
quiet spaces, with the river running like a domestic creature even with the 
cultivated fields ; while willow trees and poplars line the road, and alders 
and elms the waterways. There is no sudden gorge or break in the low bare 
hiUs, and one's entry into the Valley might pass unnoticed were it not for 
the splendid gleam of Haramukh beyond, the manifest outpost of a greater 
world. 

But there is one moment of a wonderful transition that no one, I suppose, 
can ever forget, and it comes on passing from the dust, the toil, and the clang 
of the hundred and seventy miles of mountain-road upon which one has 
travelled, to the cool seclusion of one's boat, and its soft gliding movement 
over the satin face of the river. 

Here is something that is unlike any other locomotion in the world. 
A rustle at the prow alone tells of the resisting stream. 

The view expands as the great mountains, white with snow at their 
sxunmits, and spangled with silver at their lesser elevations, come into vision. 

13 



t4 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

The colours are blue and white on the mountains, brown and green upon the 
lower hills, green on the meadows as upon any towing path in England, and 
the water is dun under keel, and a mirror for lovely things ahead. 

Yet it is not always beautiful, for upon the lower river, monstrous 
buildings of tin and iron, shapeless and shameless in their ugliness, have been 
built by the engineers ; masses of debris dredged from the bottom make 
ungainly piles upon the shores ; and the electric wires which carry power 
up the valley are a blot upon the immemorial landscape. 

But the river, serene and peaceful, and unconscious of the turmoil that 
lies before it in throttling defiles, moves on its way to the Indian plains 
— " wide as the Tigris at Mosul." It seems unconscious, but the people 
say that it is well aware of its destiny ; that it lingers because it will not 
part with the loved valley of its birth, and that the turmoil at its gates is 
the symbol of its passionate grief at parting. 

Upon the mountain tops there are fantastic clouds which dream 
and die and come to life again, beneath a sky of blue. Upon the low 
edge of the world where land and water meet, there are long lines of green 
poplars with a glint of white, and majestic chinars of a beauty that is royal 
in its stateliness. Anon there is a village with its tattered houses and more 
stately mosque or Ziarat, there are buffaloes and black cattle by the water, 
people calling to each other, the daughters of the soil husking rice, parties 
of travellers in small boats making across from shore to shore — withal, a 
placid, dreamy peace. 

When the towing cord is taut and the passage way is clear, you feel as 
if the boat might go on for ever without an effort, but you soon learn that 
below the tranquil surface there lies no artificial water, but a live thing that 
lives and moves, with moods and passions of its own. You are travelling 
up a sheltered water such as trackers love, when upon a turn the boat is 
caught in the swift racing current and all is changed to animation ; or again 
it must cross from one bank to the other, and, in spite of six rowers and 
polemen, it can only make the further shore at a point far below that from 
which it set out. 

As the day reaches its close, you move your chair to the roof of the boat, 
whence your eyes travel without an effort over three-fourths of the horizon. 



THE WATER GATE 15 

What a circle of beauty it is ! with the rosy light flushing the brows of 
Haramukh and other giants of the world, and a moonlike whiteness on the 
snow-fields and peaks which face away from the sun. The green towing-path 
is grooved by the passing footsteps of the trackers, and the spacious fields 
lie spread like a table under the Heavens. 

The river itself is the haunt of grey and purple shadows and of lustrous 
bands of colour ; red and green under the banks, silver and opal in mid- 
water, flaming pink and gold. 

Long after the white snow-fields up in the mountains are wrapped 
in sleep, the high peaks glitter like sword-edges, and the scheme is one of 
some far north world. The boat moves so peacefully along the water that 
it forms as it were an integral part of the landscape. 

A pair of Bulbuls come to perch upon its roof and play at love, 
a Willy-wagtail climbs up here to walk with dainty footsteps along 
the edge of the carved railings. Here and there a Heron stands mirrored 
in the water, a duck flies swiftly across the darkening sky. The groves 
resound to the closing music of doves, the chatterings of sleepy 
sparrows. 

This seems to be the hour loved by the birds. The sensation it yields 
is one of an unmeasured peace and a world remote from care. You would 
think that no one who lived here had ever a grief or a pain, and that at 
Death men passed insensibly here into the bosom of Nature. 

The colours which so please one's eyes are soft in their appeal ; a har- 
mony of grey and silver and lavender ; but the flush of sunset on the peaks 
towards Nanga Parbat is an exquisite rose, and behind them, in response to 
some final message from the sun, there break out into the sky long sudden 
fans of violet light or shadow. 

Then the full-orbed moon emerges from behind those same peaks, 
that were rosy a moment ago and are now already sad and grey. Her 
radiant form is bright with the gold of the departed sun, and twice her 
accustomed size when sailing through the sky. 

Did those violet shafts know that the moon was about to rise? 

Hear the mysterious singing of the air, the delicate tremolo of the cricket, 
and the ripple of the rudder in the silent water ! 



i6 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

At eight o'clock the world has become Arctic, yet with the warmth 
and glow of an English summer night under a harvest moon. 

Long after sleep had fallen upon it save for the patient trackers who, 
like yoked cattle, pulled in silence by the shore, I sat on under the high moon, 
lost in the beauty of the night. So bright was her gleam that the snows 
upon the mountains were imaged in the waters ; yet so faintly that they 
looked like some lost pattern in the waters themselves. 

No sound broke the incomparable stillness of the night. 

Save for the ascending Moon and the scarcely visible progress of the 
boat, the world seemed at pause, transfixed with wonder at her own 

loveliness. 

" It seemed as if the hour were one 

Sent from beyond the skies, 

Which scattered from beyond the sun 

A light of Paradise." 

When I could no longer endure the poignancy of this scene, I went below 
and sat by the Moorish windows of my boat, and felt more of kin there with 
the beautiful things of the night. These little windows, I reflected, were 
made for lovers and frail beings, who would forget here in the laughing 
moonlight on the water, and its gleam upon the fretted arabesques of roof 
and wall, upon crimson silken curtains and human forms, the relentless 
march of time ; the passing in their stately pageant of the Universal Gods. 

I slept well, but more than once I woke as though summoned by some 
invisible messenger to go and look once more upon the divine perfection of 
the night. 



^ 

CHAPTER II 
THE WULAR LAKE 

When I rose in the morning we were slowly gliding into the Wular ; the 
greatest of all the lakes of Hindustan. The surface of its waters was embroid- 
ered with lilies, which here and there the early folk were collecting into their 
dark canoes as food for their cattle. The Lake spread vastly before us, of 
a radiant blue, and as we moved across it, the snowy masses of the Pir 
Pantsal behind us slowly lengthened out into a mighty array and wall of 
glittering snow. Beyond them, somewhere upon their farther side, there 
lay the plains of India in the grip of a demoniac summer. Yet was it hard to 
believe that they still existed, so complete was the transition to this magic vale. 

Oh ! the warm vital sunlight ! the incomparable freshness of the morning 
air, the blite and silver of the mountains, and the rippling sheen of the lake ! 

Here upon this sunlit morning, on the last day of April, I found the per- 
fection of idleness. The sun's warmth was tempered for me by a shamiana 
awning which left the view untrammelled, and the swinging of the boat 
brought every phase of the horizon in succession into sight. The near water 
was carpeted with the soft green and red leaves of the Singara, and the snow 
and purple of the mountains on the north were mirrored in the satin surface 
of the lake. Upon it moved with a solemn and stately progress the Dungas 
with their pent roofs, like gigantic hay-stacks in the illusion of sky and water, 
and the light shikaras that carried the village folk about their affairs. Far 
across the unruffled waters I could hear the voice of a man singing from very 
lightness of heart, and the murmur of mingled voices came to me from a 
hamlet under the giant wall of the mountains. 

Towards noon, as the boat neared the end of her voyage across the Lake, 
every feature of these mountains was doubled in the lily-embroidered waters, 

17 



i8 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

and my eyes travelling from the reflection to its source, rested with a feeling 
of kinship on the green fields and homesteads, where the great valleys falling 
precipitously from the snows, soften to shelving fans and spaces of land 
fit for human subsistence. Upon many such as these I had looked in 
other years from the edge of Garda and Leman, but all there is known and 
frequented and a little worn with use ; whereas here these hamlets and 
homesteads slumber on like Nature herself, unconscious and nameless to the 
outer world. No tourist steamer here ruffles in its daily transits the calm of 
the waters, the lily tapestry, the immemorial stillness. Here the wild duck 
still wings her flight, the heron makes her home, and those who would cross 
the waters must ply their oars. Here is life in its simplest form ; the life 
of the East. 

At this far end as one nears the shore the waters shallow, and acres of 
reeds make green fields on the Lake, leaving only here and there a winding 
pool, or passage-way for the boats. At such places the dlicks and the water- 
fowl shelter, and the reed-sparrows chatter, and new earth is slowly brought 
into being for the plough. Upon the green meadows, level as by the shores 
of Brook in Vaterland, where the Dutch cows feed, there are herds of cattle 
and horses, and whinnying foals, and lambs ; and here, willows grow, flinging 
their shadows on the pools, and ever as we move the white mountains behind 
us stand up more and more in all the pride and glory of their high estate, and 
the great white circle which hems in this secluded world like a diadem, 
becomes increasingly manifest. So vast are its snow-fields, so lofty its 
summits white with eternal ice, that even in the full noon-light of this 
summer day, they carry with them a chilling and cold suggestion. Neither 
Leman, where its white mountain shines above the waters of Geneva, nor 
Garda, where its purple cliffs are mirrored in the blue of the once 
Austrian shore, nor any other of our great and beautiful lakes in Europe, 
has anything to show by comparison with this Titanic circle. 



At this north end of the lake, whence the Gilgit Road may be seen 
winding its way in sharp diagonals up the mountains to some of the highest 
lands in the world, a canal or passage, separated from the lake on either side 




POLING ON THE WULAR. 



> 



* 




THE WULAR LAKE 19 

by a narrow strip of grass, marks the entry of the Jhilam into its bosom, and 
so changes the character of our progress. The long poles are put away and 
the polemen wade ashore with the towing line. The grassy margins are the 
haunt of flocks of sheep and cattle and ponies, and amphibious and level is 
the earth with these pastoral incidents to give it character. The canal itself 
is a sinuous, winding creature, as natural in its beauty as any other feature 
of the landscape. In these shallows the grey Herons, whose plumes were 
once sought after by Emperors and great noblemen, whose flight was pursued 
by their falcons upon many a sunlit morning, now live at peace ; yet, still 
mindful of those days, alert and suspicious of every passing boat. 

It is the secret of the charm of Kashmir that it combines these homely 
and pastoral scenes that might be taken from an English valley, with a land- 
scape that dazzles the eye with its majesty, and fills the mind with its 
records of a splendid past. And how happily, notwithstanding the great 
mountains, and those memories of departed greatness, one's eyes rest upon 
the humble meadows scarcely raised a foot above the water ; these ruminant 
herds at peace ; that field of mustard, spread like an embroidered coverlet 
of green and gold at the foot of the mountains, the very air scented by its 
bloom as we pass along its borders ! 

Here, as the waters wind through hamlet and village, are children at 
play, and women with their babes, and old men basking in the kindly sun ; 
the Maulvi or village saint with his white beard and rosary and fastidious 
gait ; the weaver by his washing pool. Here is the crooning of doves, the 
crowing of cocks, the singing of rowers as a marriage party speeds upon its 
way ; here arc young lambs that skip upon the meadows under the mulberry 
trees, while women pole and track, and even little children of five harness 
themselves joyfully to the towing cords. Here is the tomb of a prophet 
with its purple Iris bloom, and the village headman's house with its pro- 
jecting oriels and grace and ornament, and here are the humbler tenements, 
each a legible picture of the simple life of the people. 



'Soon as the evening shades prevail. 
The moon takes up the wondrous tale, 
And nightly to the listening earth. 
Repeats the story of her birth ; 
While all the stars that round her bum 
And all the planets in their turn 
Confirm the tidings as they roll. 
And spread the truth from pole to pole." 



% CHAPTER III 

NIGHT AT MANASBAL 

As the evening came I left the boat to pursue its tranquil course along the 
winding river, and took a path across the meadows through orchards and by 
quiet waters, till I came upon Manasbal, buried deep below the fields, an 
amethystine pool of water that took my breath away with its very loveli- 
ness. Upon its further shore there is the hill of Ah Tung, a solitary out- 
work upon the plain, and the Lake wanders northwards into a cleft in the 
mountains, whose purple walls and snowy gleam from a far interior are 
imaged in the waters, as still and deep as though time and incident were 
unknown to them. 

Two small boats lay upon its surface ; one that was carrying some 
travellers from the Lake to the River ; another with a woman at the helm, 
and a man fishing at the prow. The travellers passed on, leaving this man 
and his mate alone upon the silent water. 

I followed along the grassy shore to the hamlet of Nunni Nara, where the 
stone boats lie at anchor in the canal, under willow trees, by an ancient high- 
backed bridge of Imperial days. Here in the gloaming many of the people 
were clustered together, as in some little Dutch village, idly observing the 
life afoot. Along the canal where the boats were anchored, the boat 
people sat enjoying the quiet evening amidst fields of purple Iris ; their 
children about them, and their hearth-fires glowing within their tran- 
sitory homes. 

We anchored off Sumbal village, facing its superb cluster of chinars, 
from the heart of which, where a shrine lay hidden, a flame kept flickering 
like some soul that couJd not find repose. The night was silent, save when 
a boat came out of the darkness, the rowers singing softly to their oars, 

21 



22 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

but the river bore them away into its mystery. The Moon rose behind 
stray wisps and veils of cloud and lighted the river and its motion, and the 
reflections from the trees lay like velvet upon its surface. Afar off the Pir 
Pantsal was visible, with its veins of silver in the deep falling valleys and its 
far-spread snow-fields and icy peaks above. 

DAWN 

I woke by some happy fortune at early dawn, to find the Moon in the 
last moments of her dominion over the night, and the white mountains still 
as the Sleeping Beauty under her spell. A band of violet shadow lay between 
them and her silver orb, and for a few seconds or moments the scene was 
one of life in suspense. 

There lay the wide space of the unruffled river, and upon it the image of 
the Moon, and there was the grove of chinars, its light gone out, silent and 
still asleep. Upon the Iris meadows by the bank where the boat lay at 
anchor the night dew hung like jewels. 

The world might have come happily to its end at this moment. 

Yet was this but the prelude to a day in Kashmir. 

The white silver of the Moon grew rosy with the dawn, as if swept by 
some secret emotion ; pink waves of colour mingled almost invisibly with 
the violet shades, the morning-song of a thousand doves broke from the 
coverts, and upon the loftiest peaks the first arrows of the sun shone with a 
divine radiance. The eastern sky over Ah Tung, where Manasbal still 
slumbered, was lit with saffron hues, and Day was visibly at hand. The 
last star had gone and with it the shadows of night. Yet the moon still 
shone, queen-like and radiant upon her throne. 

The trackers now awakened and stole swiftly ashore, the boat, as if 
quickened by some voluntary purpose, began to move, and the whole scene 
thereupon became animated with life. From instant to instant the snows 
became emblazoned with the morning, and from Tatakuti to Apharwat, 
along the whole array of the Pir Pantsal, the new-born day was ushered in. 
Gone were the violet bands, and the moon lay a-dying ; and the moment of 



NIGHT AT MANASBAL 23 

her trespass was lost in the general resurrection. She passed like the light 
of a candle and was no more. 

As though to mark the transition from night to gorgeous and animated 
Day, we were caught at this moment in the swirling current of the river, 
where it fiercely races under the obstructing piers of the wooden bridge of 
Sumbal. 



^ 

CHAPTER IV 

APPROACH TO SRINAGAR 

At Shadipur the boatmen stay to eat their morning meal, and the boat lies 
by the shore in the midst of a circle of entrancing beauty. 

Here is the loveliness of a Pastoral Land, with its flocks of sheep and 
their shepherds imaged in the still pools, under the shade of spreading trees ; 
of a Water Land, through which a noble river flows placidly on to its destiny, 
dallying with the shining hours of its youth, while boats full of sheep and 
young lambs, that fill the gentle air with their plaints, are borne across its 
waters from level shore to level shore ; of a Mountain Land, where sublime 
peaks and glaciers uplifted to the Heavens shine in the radiance of an eastern 
sun, and blue valleys fall precipitously to the water's edge. 

Here at Shadipur also there is a mingling of the waters, and every 
outlook is upon a picture that fascinates the eye with its gentle and exquisite 
perfection. 

As the boat moves, the softest of zephyrs blows, tempering the glow 
of the sunlight to a heavenly perfection of climate, so that one whispers 
to one's self, with a sense of complete attainment, the famous words of 
an Emperor : 

" If there be a Paradise on earth, 
It is here, it is here, it is here." 

And there is indeed no other combination of wood and water and mountain, 
with physical ease, in all the world to equal this. 

Every outlook here is a picture. There, upon my right hand, are the 
trackers bending under their toil by the edge of the silver water in the midst 
of green and purple fields, with the snowy bloom of the white thorn about 

D 25 



26 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

them and the yet more dazzling snows beyond ; and there upon my left, 
knee-deep in the same green and purple pastures, are flocks of white sheep 
and black cattle, with a blue lagoon beyond and the mountains near at 
hand. A little further a fisherman flings his silvery net, and golden acres 
spread amidst the purple and the green ; while a shepherd in his cloak stands 
still and solitary between water and mountain, his flock about him, and 
herons are mirrored in the next lagoon. 

Here upon the lush meadows are mares with their young foals, and colts 
galloping about, intoxicated with the joy of life ; here are cattle ploughing 
the rich earth to the loud calls of the ploughmen, milch goats with their kids 
passing the slumberous noon under the heavy shade of immemorial trees ; 
birds overhead in the branches, and swallows that wheel by the hamlets 
and skim the lustrous water, and dart like arrows througli the silken awnings 
of the boat. 

And over all, there is the skylark singing his song in the sunlit spaces 
high above the world ! 

We pass a Ziarat by the river's edge, a walled-in enclosure, where, under 
the shade of mighty trees bending under their burden of years, a man lies 
buried who in his little day rose a head above his fellows by reason of his 
sanctity, and whose bones are now treasured as of help and comfort to the 
living. The Sayyad Husein Bokhari they call him, and he came, as his name 
implies, from some far haunt in Central Asia, by 

" Samarcand that far-famed Belvedere,'* 

to live and die here amongst these people. Who shall say what was the 
real story of his life ? 

Round about him the village dead are buried, under a green hillock that 
flames with purple or gleams as white as snow in the season of the Flag, 
and in this secluded place under the light and shade of the great trees, where 
the birds sing and the river sweeps placidly on its way, they sleep in 
peace. 

From somewhere here, up the long vistas of the river, we get our first 
glimpse of Hara Parbat and its dark fortress on the hill, and the Takht-i- 
Sulaiman, where from immemorial time there has been a temple of the Gods. 




AN IDYLL OF THE VALE. 



J 



APPROACH To SRINAGAR ±i 

Between these two, the Acropolis and the Shrine, there hes Srinagar, the 
capital of Kashmir, and here the circuit of the mountains to far beyond 
Vernag is now visibly complete. The long poplar highway which bisects 
the valley makes a great line like an army arrayed for battle, and the river, 
sweeping in splendid coils and loops through fields of flowers, brings one to 
the Gates of the City. 



CHAPTER V 

ENTERING THE CITY 

The picturesque assails one at every turn. Here are many things ; an 
orchard overhanging the river wall ; a mosque with its tall tower and carved 
windows, and its gallery by the water where two men in white garments 
are deep in the Moslem prayer, facing the full glare of the sun with a 
stoic piety ; cool green pergolas of vines upon whose under-surface the 
water-gleams dance ; two pretty faces at a fretted window, which is promptly 
closed with a coquettish smile, as though the owner would say " Very 
nice, no doubt, but not for you. Sir " ; great stone basement walls 
from which rise, as in Venice, many-storied houses with windows looking on 
the river ; glorious chinars flinging their dappled shade on sunlit walls and 
inner courts ; gardens by the river hung with jasmines ; and little birds 
that sing in cages as if they were free ; the silvered cupola of a temple ; 
beyond these the old-world bridges of the City, and Hara Parbat like a 
mediaeval castle on its hill ; and then a side canal up which we turn, as in 
Venice, with a cry of warning, and the life changes as it does from the Grand 
Canal to a side water, and hundreds of boats are busy with the incidents 
of trade, with mighty timber for house-building, with straw and firewood 
from the country. Here in the vistas the view is grey and lacking in beauty 
of form and line, the houses tottering and squalor about. One murmurs 
" A Venice of hovels " after some by-gone observer ; but near at hand there 
is the beauty of great trees to redeem it, of carved balconies ; — and the 
unfailing life and <;olour of the Orient. Yet its very resemblance makes one 
sigh for the splendour and majestic loveliness of the Queen City. . . . 

Perhaps it was like this a thousand years ago ? 

Let us call this rather a rural Venice. 

29 



30 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

We have to make a hard fight and struggle for place, wherever the cur- 
rent runs fiercely under the piers of a bridge or where the passage is narrow. 
For here we are dealing with no still lagoon, but with a live creature given to 
passion under restraint. Every foot of progress has to be fought for here, 
every vantage seized, be it the side of an arch, or the hull of a boat, or the 
beams of a bridge overhead, and towing cord and punting pole are swiftly 
interchanged as the one or the other offers better promise of victory. 

If it be a little placid on the open river as the boat glides slowly on its 
way, here in the City there is no lack of incident. It is evident that here 
w6 are launched upon a struggle in which victory may incline to the other 
side. And when the current is mastered there is danger from the overhanging 
boughs of the mulberry trees, which reach across the waterway and threaten 
the roof of the boat. 

Presently we are rewarded for all this turmoil by a Persian Lilac hedge 
whose fragrance fills the narrow waters and makes the eyes rejoice with its 
wonted beauty. Its scent is somewhat richer, its bloom and foliage a little 
diverse from our own ; yet is it Lilac unmistakeably, and we reach up to 
it, and take of its abundance as we pass. 

There are many faces at the windows and oriels of the houses as the 
boat pursues her course. Here for one is an ancient dame with her little 
grand-daughters, who laugh and salute us as we pass up, here a proud lady 
who draws the papered shutters to with a high disdain, here a white-bearded 
Pandit with glasses on his nose and a sacred volume on his knees, and by 
the water's edge, where the Quince trees are in bloom, there are women in 
pink with oval faces and dark eyes scouring and filling their brazen pots, 
and there is a wooden bridge over which the people pass on horseback and 
afoot, while the boat fights its way through the turmoil below. It is held 
with the utmost difficulty from dashing back into the piers, by poles which 
quiver and beat a rat-tat against the hull, till the straining trackers hurry to 
the bank and the battle is won. But while all this is happening and the result 
is yet uncertain a raft of a dozen great logs lashed together comes swiftly down 
upon us, and striking a pier envelops it, and bursts asunder. The two 
raftsmen with their long poles are carried down on a moiety, while the rest 
break away and drift down the river, a danger to those embarked upon it. 



NOONDAY PEACE AT THE NISHAT BAGH 



ViAlUV. AH 



ENTERING THE CITY 3^ 

Another fight, more tense and longer in suspense, brings us under the 
walls of Sher Garhi, the palace of the Maharajah, to the beating of drums, 
the blare of conch shells and the noise of ritual, into the wide river ; and so 
into the dusk, with the pink hues of sunset on the water, a blue haze in the 
vistas and sparrows busy settling for the night. We pass by carved stair- 
ways that betray the touch of a noble hand, into the Tsunth-Kul or Apple 
Tree canal, where under the great chinars all is peace. 

The stars are now shining over head, and their reflections gleam in the 
lane of waters. 

A little further and we are in the midst of the far-famed Chinar Bagh, 
where the English house-boats lie at anchor, and as we pass them slowly, 
one by one, they yield glimpses of homely interiors, and drawing rooms with 
pictures and books upon the walls, of silver and white linen — of a woman 
bending over a night-lamp making a child's food. 

The boat touches and we come to rest by a grassy bank under the 
sweeping boughs of a mighty tree, and one is assailed by the conviction that 
one has dropped into the very lap of the Gods ! One is in the midst, it 
would seem, of a conspiracy on everybody's part, from the Kashmir Raj 
to the humble boatmen who toil all day, to do all that the heart of spoilt 
and luxurious man can require. 

For here is everything ; scenery, solitude, company, service, indulg- 
ence, the vagrant irresponsible life, and a home upon the water. Here 
one is eneloistered in the heart of Asia, upon the far side of those majestic 
snows which shine like an eternal barrier between India and the world 
beyond ; yet by some magic, here is the life of an English river, the life of 
Henley and of Oxford — of house-boats and window blinds, and level places 
over the roof, set with chairs and cushions and flowers, and within, books, 
and all the last refinements of civilized life. A miracle — nothing less ! 



"Each spot in Kaslunir one is inclined to think the 
most beautiful of all." 

Sir Francis Younghusband. 



aA/5A'»^HHT aj'i'lA MHT 



-Th'r 





THE APPLE TREE CANAL 



CHAPTER VI ^ 

FmST MORNING AT SRINAGAR 

The morning light reveals the sum of my environment. Here below me, 
where the water is running past to its junction with the river, is the Tsunth- 
Kul or Apple-Tree Canal, A few yards away are the great gates through 
which the clear sparkling waters of the Dal Lake rush with a vehement joy. 

The Dal Lake is one of the wonders of the world, and its joys must be 
left to another exploration ; but so tempting is this doorway that I cannot 
resist crossing the water from the green-gold corner where my boat has 
passed the night, for a glimpse into the far-famed loveliness beyond. 

Here is water, " clear and soft as silk," through which as the shikara glides 
I can see the little fish darting about like arrows in their under-world of 
weeds. Here are bending willows by its shores, and orchards yet in bloom, 
and house-boats with chairs and cushions under white canopies the image of 
holiday enjoyment, an English boat-house with a girl painting from a corner 
of its balcony, and shikaras waiting like slim gondolas by the gate to carry 
one abroad ; a Rajah encamped in a secluded corner, groups of Biblical 
people under the shade of the chinar trees, boat loads of veiled women and 
laughing children of kin with those who dwell by The Sweet Waters of Asia ; 
and over all the resplendent snows, and Solomon's Throne and the castle of 
Hara Par bat. 

So I leave it for the present, and returning to the Apple-Tree Canal 
follow it up stream to the river. It winds here in a great curve through 
lines of slim poplars whose shadows fall in velvet bars across its lucent 
face, and there are black cattle moving along its green slopes, and house- 
boats at anchor beside it. And then, wonderful to relate, there is the sudden 
tolling of a church bell, and along the foot-paths and high embankment 

B 33 



34 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

of the river there are EngUsh women and children on their way to church 
in sweet frocks and hats, with prayer-books in their hands ! 

Such are the surprises and contrasts of Kashmir ; and it is character- 
istic of this favoured corner of the earth, that no sooner is one scene of 
lovehness past, than one is plunged into another of equal but wholly 
different beauty. 

So I felt when, from the Dal Lake and the Apple-Tree Canal, I came 
upon the river embankment by the Munshi Bag for the first time in my 
life. For here were plane trees of the most noble proportions, shelving 
gardens to the river's edge of white and purple Irises, the air heavy with 
their perfume ; house-boats in the shelter of the young willow trees, and 
the river itself like a superb Isis with giant avenues of poplars upon its 
further shore. 

Here upon the near bank were Elizabethan-looking houses, laden with 
wisterias and roses, encompassed about with lawns and gardens, and shaded 
by great trees at whose feet the daisies enamelled the grass. There was 
throughout a sense of abounding life, as though growth came without voli- 
tion, and Nature seemed to look at one with a deep benevolence and say : 
" This is but a fraction of what I can accomplish." 

The church, whose spire rose but a little above the level of the embank- 
ment, seemed buried in roses and flowers and rooted in lush meadows, and 
upon the embankment itself there was the English club, with its rich carpets 
and dark timbered walls and its wooden seats across the road, reserved for 
its members, whence under the shelter of four monumental chinars, that 
may have grown here when Elizabeth was on her throne, they see the world 
go by, the rushing river upon the one hand with its multitudinous life, and 
their own women and children, domestic, as in England, upon the other. 

One soon grows accustomed to this environment and comes to take it as 
of course ; but this first impression must linger on far into after years. For 
here indeed is a pleasure-ground unsurpassed in Asia ; and the life is in- 
dulgent, Oriental. Instead of poling your own punt or paddling your own 
canoe, you sit here in a light shikara, with white awnings and embroidered 
curtains to temper the sunlight, and are carried where you will by those 
whose one object in life seems, to be at your service. It is this mingling of 



FIRST MORNING AT SRINAGAR is 

Eastern complaisance with English homeliness and beauty that makes 
Kashmir so unapproachable in its way ; and wherever you go there is room 
and freedom to do as you will. 

My own boat is anchored, apparently by some voluntary act upon its 
own part, by the rim of a grassy island, under the most princely trees in 
the world, and the neighbourhood by some enchantment has become mine. 
All day long I can sit here upon the roof of my boat, by the edge of a sun-lit 
stream, with this green-gold canopy above me and a series of infantile bays 
and inlets in the grassy shore below, and life ever in motion on the stream. 
Here a slim shikara, with a bevy of Indian women in pink silks and white 
muslins out for the day, then another laden with objets d'art, insinuating its 
way under my notice as though I might be Croesus himself ; while all the day 
long, from early dawn to starry night, the people go about their affairs of busi- 
ness and of pleasure, softly, by indulgence of the placid water. Here is life 
made easy, and it is a life that appeals to East and West alike. We have 
it upon high authority that they can never meet ; but they meet in 
Kashmir. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE CAPITAL 

Skinagar is unique. You may compare it with this or that (and it is like 
a tattered Venice most of all), but it remains, and will always remain, in a 
category apart. Some fourteen hundred years ago it supplanted Asoka's 
city at Pandrethan hard by, and it has retained by right of place its claim 
to be the capital of Kashmir. 

" Where else," asks its chronicler with an affectionate pride — " where 
else on earth, apart from that city, can one find easily streams meeting, 
pure and lovely, at pleasure-residences and near market streets ? " 

" Where else do the inhabitants, on a hot summer day, find before 
their houses water like that of the Vitasta, cooled by large lumps of snow ? " 
And 

" Where else in the centre of a city is there a pleasure-hill from which 
the splendour of all the houses is visible as if from the sky ? " 

From this Acropolis, indeed, one can look not only upon the streets and 
lanes, the canals, the lazy coiling river, the shining lakes and pleasure- 
gardens, the mosques, palaces, temples, and many-storied houses of the city, 
but upon nearly the whole of the valley of Kashmir. In bygone days the 
city was itself known as Kashmir, and it ruled the valley and the mountains 
and absorbed them into its own life as completely as Athens did or Florence. 
All the tradition and personality of the Kashmiri — the intellect, wit, craft, 
arts, religion, beauty, refinement, and degradation of this singular people 
— ^are concentrated in this sordid yet lovely city, that fascinates and repels 
one by turns. 

Its soul and impulse is the river, which winds through it in loops, flow- 
ing under its seven bridges, its stone embankments in which the shattered 

37 



38 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

remnants of temples and shrines and violated gods are buried, its stairs 
where the people bathe, and women with bare feet, descending and ascend- 
ing, fill their water-pots ; its shops, its mosques, its gardens blowing by the 
water's edge. Side canals, that ultimately link with it, flow through dark 
alleys and under ancient high-backed bridges, and carry one into the city's most 
secret haunts. Streets and lanes intersect the maze of houses, with the same 
bewildering complexity that they do in Venice ; and curious surprises await 
one, as when the Mar Canal, after an hour's wandering, carries one's boat 
to a point whence it is borne upon the shoulders of a dozen men through a 
crowded lane of high houses, that almost meet overhead, and dropped 
into the wide open stream of the river. Here in the heart of this city is Asia : 
life and death jostling each other ; children that swarm in prolific homes, 
while cholera and disease slay them without pity ; vice in the dark alleys 
and secret places ; piety in the streets, where men seem ever at prayer ; 
houses that grow into beautiful forms and delicate traceries as by the light 
of nature, yet are so shaken and awry with neglect that one marvels how 
they escape an instant dissolution ; gardens, laden with roses and filled 
with the scent of lilacs and jasmines, overhanging dark waters whose breath 
is the breath of a sewer; a populace steeped in poverty and given to 
incredible toil with fine needles, whose supple fingers in bygone days made 
the shawls of Kashmir a wonder of the world ; yet a people idle and pleasure- 
loving, who pass you with smiles upon their handsome faces and the treachery 
of centuries of practice at their hearts ; a people reputed by strangers to be 
full of duplicity and treachery, and a hundred unpleasant qualities ; yet 
also commended by some who know them for their hospitality, their grati- 
tude, their domestic affections, and their freedom from crime ; homes that 
are sealed to the outer world, yet a life that is lived in public, with that 
astonishing candour, sociability, and charm that characterise the East. 

You enter your shikara, and are carried down the buoyant water, sway- 
ing with its life, and as you go the houses of the city defile before you. Here 
is a shop, with its carved oriels overlooking the river, and its creaking sign- 
board inviting you to buy the finest carvings, the best papier-mdchS in 
Kashmir. At the windows are the numerous proprietors calling upon you 
with voice and gesture to enter. You yield to the invitation, resolved to 



THE MAR CANAL 



I 




^ihri.^^J^_nt\.y''i .'J t« 



THE CAPITAL 39 

buy nothing ; your boat is stopped by a flight of stairs ; you climb a narrow 
and sullied street, and you enter — an enchanted garden ! Did you think 
when you climbed up here and crossed that forbidding threshold that you 
would find before you a sun -lit patio, green grass and banks of Persian 
lilac, whose perfume would fill the drowsy air ? Those dark and solemn 
cypresses, that little orchard set upon its terrace, those roses waiting 
to bloom ? 

At the far side of this inner court seated at the carved Saracenic win- 
dows, each a frame for a picture, sit the patient carvers and painters ; 
while the rooms beyond are full of lovely things the product of their skill. 
From the windows on the river-face there is a view that is one of the world's 
masterpieces. 

You resume your journey. The river rushes under the wooden piers 
of the bridges, the people pass overhead ; from carved oriels and fretted 
balconies groupF of women and girls look out upon the passing show. Some 
have beautiful faces, many more are graceful. At others there are old men 
with white beards, and these sit with a singular dignity by the windows 
reading from some scriptural text, regardless of the outer world. Children 
laugh and play by the stream's edge. Upon the silvered roofs of the 
temples the sun shines with a dazzling light, and the whole face of the river 
is luminous with a brightness that vanquishes the eyes. A puff of white 
smoke suddenly emerges from one of the bastions of the fort overlooking 
the city, the air is filled with a roar, and slowly round a bend in the river 
comes the Maharajah's barge with its rowers in scarlet, its walls lacquered 
and painted in red and yellow, the colours of Spain. In the rush of boats 
that follows, your own is jostled and splashed by the sparkling waters. 

You leave the river and enter the narrow crowded streets of the city, 
where the people are astir like bees in a hive. Here goes the Pandit with his 
stately air and his pretty wife in a rose-pink gown ; the Mullah with his 
rosary, representing the rival creed ; the Hamal, as you have seen him in 
Stamboul, bent under a great burden; here in the shops are the tailors 
and the goldsmiths, the cobblers, the braziers, the bookbinders, the con- 
fectioners, and all those numerous people who ply their trade under the 
public eye in an Eastern city. And here are the purchasers, women buying 



40 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

little cups of milk for a farthing and small groceries meticulously weighed 
out, and life in all its variety and simplicity. 

You would see the interiors of some of these tall houses whose fretted 
windows and forbidding doors invite your curiosity ? You would obtain 
a gUmpse of the craftsmen at work on their shawls, their embroideries, 

their papier-mache ? 

It is possible just now to see both together in two of the most attractive 
old houses in Srinagar. These houses are a revelation of beauty after the 
rococo palace of the Maharajah and the tin-roofed shops and distressing 
buildings of the European quarter. 

From the narrow street you pass into a wide sunlit court, upon the far 
end of which there opens the front door of the house. Over it there is a 
wide Sara<;enic arch, which is half a dome, painted and cusped within, with 
a seat upon either hand for the doorkeeper and his cronies to sit and warm 
themselves in the sun. Here, some mules which have carried in a burden 
are tethered as before a Spanish entrance, fretting and whisking away 
the flies. High above them soars the front of the house, perfectly pro- 
portioned and spaced, with deep overhanging eaves of carved cedar, with 
projecting oriels and windows filled with pinjra work in arabesque designs. 
From the door a stone passage leads straight through the house to the 
crowded sunlit street beyond. You cannot but pause in its soft gloom to 
enjoy this sight of the passing worid, like a picture on a screen. 

A narrow and winding stair that suggests the middle ages cUmbs through 
the interior of the house to the lighted rooms, in which the workers are busy 
over delicate embroideries ; no less than seventy-five men and boys m a 
space that would be cramped for half a dozen Englishmen. They are a 
frail community these hereditary weavers, who sit here now with their 
slender pUant fingers, their sensitive faces and dark liquid eyes, embroider- 
ing the linen and canvas before them with millions of stitches. What 
incredible labour it is, like that of bees in a comb, which goes to create the 
finished article, for which you pay so little, and which you so lightly fling 
aside in the dealer's shop for some little fault in the pattern or in the scheme 
of colour ! Here it seems inhuman to tax the fife and patience of any 
creature with a soul, to this extent. 



THE CAPITAL 41 

This house in which they are assembled once belonged to a Vizier ; 
so that beside these more open rooms there is the secluded chamber in 
which his women sat behind a screen of fretted cedar, half visible and half 
concealed. Its front window looks out upon the world, and in particular 
upon the upper floor of an adjoining house, where to-day there is a great room 
full of children at school. But in the past ... it may be that glances passed 
from lattice to lattice of which the Vizier was unaware. 

Here is another house which is even more attractive than this. You 
enter it directly from the street, and passing through its central hall, where 
the door-keeper slumbers, you are taken at a sharp angle into a garden- 
court, which, though a little neglected now, is still beautiful. Into this 
secluded place, with its high walls, there is no entrance save past the door- 
keeper. In its centre is a deep well, and beside it an impluvium of cut 
and fashioned stone, over which a great vine spreads its lucent canopy, and 
in its season bunches of the finest grapes in Kashmir. The vine reaches 
away to the walls of the house, which it partially covers ; and under its 
shelter a wooden trough, brown with the velvet of time, carries the water 
from the well to the Hummam within the house. 

A flight of outer steps carries you to the door of entrance, and 
through it into a narrow hall, where in a cool (Corner under the 
staircase the drinking water of the house is stored in earthen jars. On 
the right there is an attractive room with a carved ceiling and a line of win- 
dows opening on the garden. This is the winter sitting-room with its 
double floor and walls, through which the heated air from the Hummam 
passes, escaping outwards at last through little apertures under the roof. 
Adjoining it is the Hummam, where the luxury of a Turkish bath is avail- 
able to the owner and his guests. Passing on up the spiral stairs one arrives 
at the chef d'ceuvre of the house — a summer room under its flower-bedded 
roof, with a long series of windows upon three of its sides, yielding exquisite 
views of the Pir Pantsal snows, and of the green roofs, balconies, and spires 
of the houses and mosques of the city. There is an inner row of carved 
wooden pillars which supports an oval dome, lined with cedar wood. The 
floor of this inner compartment is a few inches lower than that of the surround- 
ing verandah, which is yet a part of it ; and the whole plan and design of 



42 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

this elevated chamber are conceived with an instinctive skill. You cannot 
doubt that it is the creation of a living school of Architecture, thrown off 
with scarcely an effort by craftsmen trained by centuries of practice. The 
plaster cornices and Saracenic arches, the shapely pillars and the perfect 
ovoid dome of the roof, all speak of a facile skill. 

There is but one door to this beautiful chamber, that by which you 
enter it up the winding stair. Light and shadow mingle in subtle grada- 
tions within it, though every window of it is open to the brilliant sun. But 
each of these windows is also equipped with fretted screens of cedar, which 
fall with a touch into their places, making beautiful sombre patterns against 
the sunlight without, and filling the room within with harmonies of light. 

Here you will find the papier-mdchS workers at their craft, seated at 
the windows and in the bays and oriels of the outer space, half in shadow 
themselves while the light falls upon their work ; a community of humble 
patient people with refined features and delicate hands, more like women 
than men. Some are busy smoothing the surface of the papier-mdchi, 
others grinding the brilliant paint ; while the rest, and these the skilled 
craftsmen, are painting in with fine brushes the design of each bowl and tray 
and box, without any pattern before them, and next laying over this the 
colours, and ultimately the varnish of liquid amber, which brings the piece 
to completion. The finished products are displayed, or covered over with 
a veil of fine muslin, in the inner chamber under the dome. Foreign taste 
and low prices have not helped to raise the level of this craft, and with the 
strange unconsciousness of Eastern workers, the same person will produce 
an exquisite piece full of feeling and refinement of design and colour, beside 
another which is only fit to be thrown out of the window or carried to the 
furnace of the Hummam. One feels that these people go right or wrong 
without knowing it. Yet here are skill, the instinct for beauty, the mar- 
vellous patience and infinite labour of those who would succeed. 

The craft of the papier-mdchi painter was introduced here from 
Samarcand by King Zain-ul-ab-i-din and was confined at its outset to the 
bow-shafts of the period. It is still known as Kamangari, or Bow-craft, 
and the quarter of the city where the painters congregate is called by that 
name. 



THE CAPITAL 43 

This beautiful and convenient house was built some forty years ago by 
a Persian merchant, who came here to trade in shawls, and eventually 
settled down in Kashmir. His son, to whom the house has descended, 
pursues his father's calling as a dealer in shawls, though an ever-increasing 
shadow has fallen upon it since the Prussians broke the Second Empire and 
deprived the shawl trade of its principal market. 

From these intimacies of the City one may pass on to its more notable 
sights : to the Tomb of Zain-ul-Abidin, the Sultan whose fame still sur- 
vives in Kashmir, to the great Mosque which is like Solomon's Temple, built 
upon a stately scale with lofty pillars of cedar, but is now in a state of disso- 
lution. Beside its tall columns, each of which was once a prince of the forest, 
some of the greatest of the Mogul Emperors have bowed their heads in 
prayer, and the idlers and Mullahs who beg in its precincts, the refuse of a 
departed age, still murmur the name of Aurangzeb. 

Old as it looks, it supplanted a far more ancient temple of wrought 
stone, whose mouldings and pediments lie scattered about the grounds. 

Islam has done much for the world in its Architecture, inspired by the 
doctrine of the one God ; but the havoc it has wrought in its iconoclastic 
fury is fearful to think of. All over Kashmir there lie in ruins the classical 
temples of the past ; and countless others have disappeared from the face 
of the earth, broken into road metal, built into dams and embankments, 
and flung into the lakes and rivers. There was one egregious person who 
boasted of the title of the Sultan Butshikan — ^the Image Breaker — by 
which infamous designation he is likely to be known with increasing ill- 
favour as the full extent of his depredations is revealed. 

There are other Mosques, some of marble like one that was built by 
Nur Jahan, others of wood ; there are Temples covered with tin, and one 
with sheets of tarnished gilt by the Maharajah's palace. There is even 
a ruined place where Christ is supposed to have lived, and whence he ascended 
into Heaven. And then, overlooking all this strange welter of beauty and 
decay, this maze of streets and canals and houses, and all the seething life 
of this incomparable city, is Akbar's old fortress, with its Castle high 
upon that hill, " whence," as the old chronicler says, " the splendour of it 
all is visible as if from the sky." 



44 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

You enter it through a great gateway of cut stone, fashioned by the 
unerring hand of the Moguls. Here, through its half gloom, from sunlight 
to sunlight, the people pass on their way to and from the City. Over the 
archway an inscription upon marble in the flowing script of Persia records 
the construction of this new (and now so old) City of Akbar, its walls and 
towers, at a cost of one hundred and ten lakhs of rupees. Two hundred 
workmen in stone, and many skilled masons, were brought here from India 
to build it ; and it was twelve years, as the people will tell you, before the 
Emperor and his son, who had begun at opposite ends, finally met upon the 
completion of the walls. 

But the glory of Akbar's day has departed : the titanic wall, with its 
embrasures and loopholes, is shattered and in ruins ; the great gates are 
crumbling, and within there is scarcely a trace now of the houses and 
palaces and buildings of that period. Herds of cattle and ponies graze 
on the soft undulating grass which covers the waterways and fountains of 
some old garden ; and almond-trees now blossom over the whole of the 
vast interior. Here in the spring the city people come and sit all day under 
the white bloom which ushers in the vernal year ; and here, as one stands 
upon the battlements and looks far down upon the back-waters of the Lake, 
one realises that one is looking upon the remnants of an early time, when the 
foundations of an empire were being laid, and before the silken daj-s of 
pleasure had supervened. For it was Akbar's half century of mastery that 
won for Jahangir his thirteen years of ease and dalliance in Kashmir. 

From this dead city one climbs to the citadel of Hara Parbat, which 
soars above it. Water was always the difficulty of these old rock-castles, 
and as one ascends one passes an old well with the remnants of great stairs 
descending to it from the keep ; and here, covering the bare and forbidding 
slopes, there are acres of Iris, and from out the tawny grass there stand out 
black mottled stones, like a squadron of panthers advancing upon the 
citadel. One enters it by a side gateway as one enters Chitor or Toledo, 
its massive door armed with spikes of iron ; and so one passes through one 
court into another, where roses are blooming, and a small garden of pome- 
granates relieves the mediaeval fierceness of the place. Over another gate 
there is a piece of marble inscribed in Persian, relating the exploits of Ata 



THE CAPITAL 45 

Mahamad Khan, the Afghan Viceroy, who built this castle in the 1226th 
year of the Prophet. The folds of the door are of solid slabs of chinar. 
There is a Hindu temple within, and a priest ringing a small bell and chant- 
ing his daily litany. His voice, as it echoes within the sombre interior, and 
is borne through the loopholes and embrasures of the Fortress into the 
outer air, carries one's thoughts back far beyond the days of Akbar to some 
primitive mist of time, when this hill was the abode of the dread goddess 
whose name it bears, and whose worship survives the lapse of unnumbered 
centuries. From these secret and inner courts one ascends to the roof of 
the Citadel, whence the whole world seems spread at one's feet in the 
sunshine. 

There, are the tawny roofs of the city, soft vistas of the winding river, 
green fields and lonely avenues of trees, mosques and palaces and shrines, 
all mingled at this distance in one serene and composite whole. Nearer 
at foot one can trace the circumambient walls of Akbar, the circle of almond 
orchards that engirdles the Citadel, the Lake of Anchar, the far-famed 
beauty of the Dal, the gleam of the distant Wular, the splendours of Hara 
Mukh, and Mahadev, the Throne of Solomon superb and simple in its grace- 
ful line, the cumulose masses of chinars which mark the Imperial Gardens, 
bridges, and roads, and all the thousand incidents of a city displayed. Over 
and above these there is the white gleam and encompassing majesty of the 
Pir Pantsal, which stands sentinel over this valley in the " womb of Hima- 
laya," as though to shelter it from the rough hands of a barbaric world. 
From here I could see the cloud masses sweeping in purple folds over valley 
and mountain, the sun shining in floods of sunlight, gilding the temple 
spires and peaks of immortal loveliness, and the whole pageant of Nature, 
in which man plays so transient and humble a part, accomplishing itself. 

The Fortress still dominates the scene with its guns and high walls and 
frowning battlements ; but the hard unrelenting race which built it, ruling 
this lovely valley with an iron hand, and careless of the feelings and affec- 
tions of the people, has been long since flung out — as such people always 
are in the end — to be punished in the next world, if not in this. No one 
regrets the Afghan in Kashmir. But how gladly the people speak of the 
Padishahs, of the wise and tolerant Akbar, the pleasure-loving Jahangir, 



46 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

and. the splendid Shah Jahan. Their memory survives not only in the fine 
old walls and gateways of Akbar's City and in the exquisite gardens by tha 
Lake shores, but in the hearts of the people. 

Who would suspect in the midst of this City, with its wooden houses, 
in these gardens and haunts of pleasure, anywhere in this lovely valley in 
which Nature and Man seem alike so complaisant, the existence of this 
typical Mohammedan City-Fortress, so like in its character to those which 
the Moguls have left in India? There are some indeed who spend many 
years in the valley and upon the Lakes without discovering that Akbar 
designed to create here a city after that model. 

But in truth it was needless, and out of harmony with the soft and 
voluptuous character of the people. Give them their silken waterways, 
their canoes and pleasure-boats, their floating gardens and orchards, and 
let who will rule and build fortresses, so long as they are not called upon to 
live in them. That is their sentiment. And so it was that Akbar's city 
failed of accomplishment. 

But when the almond-trees are in bloom, and Time, to whose wisdom 
they trust, has covered all fierceness with soft green turf, then are the 
people willing to come in and dream under the white flowers, and sing 
and pass a fortnight of the year here, where Akbar would have had them 
live in martial state. 






" The delight of the Worldling and the retired abode of the Recluse." 

Abul Fazl. 

" Perliaps in the whole world there is no comer so pleasant as the Dal Lake." 

Lawrence. 



CHAPTER VIII 
THE DAL 

The Dal, whose beauties were so opulently chanted by Tom Moore, who 
never saw it, is something more than a piece of exquisite water. It is a 
world in itself. Here are fields, and orchards whose bloom drifts upon the 
lucent waters, and meadows enamelled with purple and gold ; splendid trees, 
the chinar, the poplar and the apricot, and willows by the water-ways ; houses 
of the great and the humble, and gardens of the Emperors : sheep feeding in 
the grassy glades, and black cattle ; the plough-man behind his steers ; little 
fish speeding like arrows through the limpid waters ; halcyons displaying their 
turquoise wings and bulbuls singing in the willows, and turtle-doves whose 
music fills the morning. Here are canoes carrying the people about their 
dail> avocations, with women in them and lovely children, and barges laden 
with the produce of the islands ; shikaras that wait in line behind the 
flood-gates like gondolas at S. Mark's. Here are the floating-gardens of 
Kashmir, and the gardeners at work carrying fresh soil across the Lake where 
it widens, while their punting poles shine like silver in the sunlight, and one 
who is love-sick sings a, ghazal in the stern. The gardens look like firm earth 
till you move away a yard or two and then see them suspended in the 
lustrous water, while the dragon-flies flash about them with incredible 
speed. 

And ever beyond these there are the white snows and Solomon's Throne, 
and the blue uprising mountains with their shining peaks and shadowy 
valleys imaged in the Lake. 

It is a place that is apt to spoil one, its beauty like that of the woman 
who loves you is so accessible, its charm so little concealed. You have 
but to call a shikara, and in a moment you are launched upon its joys. 

Q 4» 



so THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

You leave for it, it may be, at early dawn, before the melting snows have 
raised the level of the River and so closed the great sluice gates of the Lake. 
Early as is the hour, life is already afoot. Here is a man standing placidly 
in the water taking his morning ablution, and many more like him with the 
early light shining upon their faces, absorbed in the morning prayer. The 
boats are moving and the day has begun. 

The sun is not yet risen behind the Takht-i-Sulaiman, but Hara-Parbat 
is already bathed in an amber glow of light, a beautiful proud castle on its 
hill. Upon the far snows of Tata Kuti and the Pir Pantsal the sun has long 
been shining, but the Eastern mountains, behind whose sierras his orb is 
concealed, are yet wrapped in deep violet shadows, where the Nishat Bagh 
and the Shalimar still slumber in the embraces of Night. The waters 
below and about us are grey and green and gleaming with light, birds are 
a-wing, and the sovmds of increasing day are abroad ; the plash of oars, 
the voices of women, the twittering cheep of the swallows as they swiftly 
skim the water, the strident crowing of chanticleer. 

See the red-heifer in the morning sun, the whole poise of her body receptive 
of his warmth and light ; the boats, stealing through the green willows, like 
phantoms of the morning ; the white geese sailing with their little families like 
a fleet abroad ; the orioles flitting like shafts of sunlight through the glades ! 

We come to Kraliyar where a temple with its silver roof is shining in 
the sun, and its stairs and carved balconies over the water are crowded with 
Brahmins bathing and at prayer. The ritual they are at is incomparably 
old. Beyond the temple there is a beautiful old bridge of Mogul days, 
with the name of the builder written in marble under its shadowy arches, 
and about it a cluster of many houses, with high garden walls hung with 
vines and alive with tha dancing of water gleams on wall and leaf. Red 
roses droop from the garden pavilions, and a field of white Iris is as moon- 
light in the morning. Hereabouts is a big shepherd carrying sheaves of 
young willow-shoots to his goats, while his children play by the water. 
One of these, a little girl of five, consents to be made a picture of, but holds 
her very heart with fear and finally breaks into tears, though she goes 
bravely through the awful ordeal to its close. 

The home of this family is upon an island that rises a foot above 



THE DAL 51 

the lake and is ringed about with white poplars. Upon its outskirts there 
are water-lihes and neat willows, and upon its edges there lie the last clods 
of earth and fibre from the lake bed that have been added to its sum. 
Within this miniature embankment there are fields and orchards. In 
the centre there is the house, tall and double-storied, of brown wood, with a 
thatched roof ; and about this little inclusive world there is an expanse of 
clear waters, and high mountains whose shadows change and swoon upon 
its surface. 

Twenty years ago when this man was still a lad, this homestead had 
not emerged from the waters of the lake. One need not grudge him his 
possession ; yet it is this ceaseless hunger for firm earth which is gradu- 
ally narrowing the borders of the Dal, and will one day convert one of the 
loveliest waters of the world into fields and tenements. 

As we approach the Nishat Bagh the environment changes subtly from 
peasant homes in a fen-country, from the pleasant scenes and events of rural 
life, to something that is visibly superb and noble. For here the mountains 
are very near, and their giant masses stand up above the lake " like the / 
thrones of Kings." Deep blue shadows lie about them, giving a lustre to 
their green surface, and steep valleys fall profoundly to the water. 

Yet between them and the lake there is room for an Imperial 
Garden. 

The still noon, as we draw near it, is resonant with the crooning of 
doves, whose music is borne as if by enchantment across the unruffled 
mirror of the lake. A high-backed bridge makes a water-gate or portal 
to the garden and its imperial pavilions. 

A man who passed it in bygone days must have known that he was 
now entered upon the dangerous precincts of the Court. 

* 

Every step I take in this wonderful valley carries me into possession 
of something that is yet more exquisite, till my power of expression is numbed 
and my senses are overcome with a beauty I cannot yet grasp or describe. 
I am thus in a position to sympathise with the Court Poet at the Coronation 



11 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

of the Emperor upon whom a fresh Robe of Honour was flung with each 
verse that fell from his lips ! 

I have a suspicion as I enter the Nishat Bagh that the Door of Paradise 
has been opened, and that I have been led by some Peri by the hand to 
look upon what must surely be the most wonderful view in the world. I 
speak not of the garden rising in imperial terraces, with a lavishness of 
space, and of height beyond height, to the overwhelming contour of the 
mountains ; for as yet I have had no power to advance beyond the first 
pavilion of the garden. To this I am tied as by the Peri's wand, and I am 
content to sit by the marble throne upon which ^o many that were great 
and splendid in their day reposed ; Shan Jahan who so loved his dear lady 
of the Taj, Dara unwitting of his terrible end, and Aurangzeb whose cold | 
heart was set upon other things than the beauty of this World. RecUn- i 
ing here in the noon-day peace, I look upon the same marvellous picture 
that they, and so many more whose names are writ in water, must have 
looked upon. Even now it is something of an exclusive view, for the door 
which admits me into this belvedere is closed behind me, and I am the 
sole tenant with the birds of this magic chamber looking out upon a 
faery scene of incomparable beauty. 
How shall I record its loveliness ? 

There is in truth the Lake before me, a great pool of tranquil water, 
blue where the sky looks into it, white and opal where the ascending clouds 
throw their living image upon it, still, as if an enchantment lay upon it ; 
like a sheet of silver here, like an embroidered carpet there, where the 
water-lilies rise upon their slender filaments to its surface, to lap at ease 
above the hidden world below ; so wide and calm that it looks of kin with 
infinite space, yet defined by shadowy trees which hang as it were between 
water and heaven, by hamlets and villages whose brown roofs mingle with 
the natural world, by a castle set upon a hill, the image of an Hellenic 
Acropolis, yet touched with I know not what suggestion of a monastery 
upon a hill, in which some Buddhist Pope might have his habitation, aloof 
from the sorrow, the transitoriness and the illusion of Life ; and yet again, 
defined by mountains so vast and so far-uplifted into Heaven, that they 
might be the very thrones of God ! 



THE DAL 53 

Blue they are and silver in their valleys, and snow-white upon 
their heights, yet in this fierce noon-day svm all molten into one mar- 
vellous prism of light. So great they look, with the white cloud-towers ( 
mingling with their summits, that they seem to have no limits to their ' 
greatness. ^ 

Thus you have mountain and sky and water and a castle upon a hill, 
and the tale might be thought complete were it not for some one whose 
instinct for perfection added a bridge, high-arched as of olden days, dark 
and shadowy in the midst of this lustrous world. A thin line like a thread 
of green connects it at either end with the substantial earth, and cattle steal 
out from the woods and cross this filament of road, and ascend and descend 
the high arch of the bridge like phantoms shaped in velvet. 

And yet again there are boats that come from the city, laden with 
veiled women and flower-faced children, and slowly they steal across the 
water, every form and line reflected in its magic surface, till they touch the 
landing stairs, — as of old an Emperor might have done, — and so pass into 
the enchanted garden. 

Nor is this all, for nearest of all, below the black marble throne, is the 
high stone wall of the garden with its vases filled with purple, and a pool 
with fountains set amidst the grass upon which the spray falls like mist. 
And upon either side of this there are far-reaching thickets of Persian lilac 
still in bloom. 

Inside the Pavilion, from which all these wonders are meant to be seen, 
there is silence, and there are veiled shadows, and the wistful peace of a day 
that has gone for ever. In the place of the magnificent Lord who built it, of 
the mighty Emperor who claimed to hold the world in fee, of the lovely women 
chosen for their perfection to add the last touch to this place of superlative 
excellence, there are little sparrows building their nests under the fretted 
eaves, and rooks that chaffer within the inner court, and a dove sheltering ( 
from the summer noon. 

Yet is this place not sad, like so many other relics of departed glory. 
The ferocity of Asia has not reached to this secluded corner, the dust and 
the havoc that appear in so many other places once the chosen of kings, 
have no power here over the beneficence of nature. The grass is as green, 



54 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

the flowers are as bright and scented, the waters as sparkling, and the vision 
of the world without, as majestic and beautiful as they ever were in the days 
of the Mogul prime. There is but enough of decay, and of the touch of a 
vanished hand, to whisper of our frail mortality which turns to Dust. It 
does it so soothly that it falls like a benediction upon the spirit, and almost 
reconciles the soul to the inevitable. 



I 



NISHAT 



lAUP.m 



CHAPTER IX 
THE NISHAT BAGH 

Oulzdr-i-nuhdt u 'aish-i-dtt M 

The Nishat Bagh rises in a series of twelve terraces — the number of the 
Zodiac— from the water's edge, and is of a size and stateliness befitting the 
Mogul Court at the height of its splendour. Much of its architectural 
beauty has suffered from the passing of three hundred years since Asaf 
Khan, the brother of Nur Jahan and the father of Arjumand the Lady of 
the Taj, turned his accomplished mind to its construction ; and many of 
its details have been lost or obscured in the vicissitudes to which so many 
of the princely tombs and palaces and gardens of that day have succumbed ; 
and none more so than the tomb of Asaf Khan itself, which stands stripped 
of all its marbles, a worn skeleton by the railway track outside Lahore. 
Yet withal, this garden of his retains its perfection, and Time has even added 
splendour to its trees, now at the very climax of their lives. 

It is indeed these trees which first and foremost appeal to one's un- 
measured admiration. There are groves of them, and each is a giant of its 
princely race. Then there are the Great Terraces, as superb in their dignity 
and in their proportions as on the day they were made, and one cannot 
fail to admire the art with which they were designed to convey the impres- 
sion of infinity, as of an endless series, passing into the high mountains 
which rise above them. The tenth terrace which marks the approach to 
the Zenana of the great nobleman, is the loftiest and most impressive of all, 
and it indicates the transition from the public to the secluded part of the 
Garden. "Behold the high wall which guards my Honour," it seems to say, 
"and respect its mandate." An octagonal throne surmounts it, and a 
great fall of waters plunges from it into the pool below. Here is the com- 
pletion as it were of the third act of the drama of this spectacular garden. 



56 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

On either hand of these stairs and fountains and thrones, and of the 
central stream that animates it, the garden melts away into orchards and 
secluded meads, so that its high boundary walls are hidden from sight. 
Here in these humbler days flocks of sheep graze under the apple trees, and 
amidst fields of snow-white Iris, adding their note of pastoral beauty to the 
formal stateliness of the garden. 

At the far summit where of old the beauties of the Harem walked, there 
is a final belvedere which commands, without itself being seen, the whole 
reach of the garden to the Lake, and the world of loveliness beyond it. 
This innermost sanctuary is now in ruins ; but most lovely at this season 
of early May, with its roof garden of flags, whose violet and purple glow 
like the robe of an Emperor through the sunlit screen of the chinars. At 
the wings also there are octagonal pavilions, from which to look out upon the 
countryside ; but these are now in hopeless decay. Through holes and 
doorways in the back wall of the garden cattle steal in and graze where the 
ladies walked, and beyond this wall there is naught but the peasant hillside 
from which this princely garden was evolved. 

All its secrets are now laid bare, and the stately mystery in which it 
was wrapped, whether as a work of Art or as the Sanctuary of one who was 
mighty and powerful in his day and generation, is no more. You may take 
a measuring tape and learn just how long and how broad this garden of his 
is, the number of its terraces, and the width of its inner chambers, and there 
is no corner of it into which you may not pry. Yet so fine and perfect is it 
in its design and character that you retain for it at all times a great 
respect. 

For the rest ; there are beds now of brilliant flowers. Guelder roses which 
droop under the weight of their own bloom, roses which sustain the fame of 
Kashmir by their perfection and luxuriant growth, honeysuckle on the high 
terrace walls, and daisies self-sown enamelling the grass. Time has de- 
stroyed much, but it has added such mellow qualities as time alone can 
give, and you feel this when you see old brick pavements, once so formal, 
now become a part of the earth itself, and billowing about the trunks of the 
great chinars, which were infants when they were laid in geometrical designs 
along the water courses. 



I 



THE NISHAT BAGH S7 

It would seem also that there is no garden in the world in which one is 
so free to do as one pleases. My breakfast was laid in this garden, as if it 
were my own, under the heavy shade of a chinar which stands alone by the 
fourth terrace in all the pride of its own loveliness. The grass below it was 
like a carpet, and the roof above me was a marvellous fabric of pointed leaves 
dappled with light and shadow, of grey boughs spotted like the cloudy 
leopard, and little spaces of blue sky. There was light, vivid and splendid, 
all about me, but none that directlj penetrated this natural canopy. The hot 
sunlight, and the gentle zephyrs of the garden as they came blown in ripples 
across the lake, combined to provide me with an Elysian climate, while the 
plashing soaring fountains filled the garden with a mist, upon which there 
were graven all the colours of the prism. 

Across the water from the City the boats stole one by one, landing their 
freight of sight-seers out for a day of pleasure. All these people came 
silently almost into the garden, women with babes carried high upon their 
shoulders, as you see them in the Bible pictures, and grave Brahmins who 
walked like princes, full of a cultured enjoyment of the garden, of the 
Guelder rose in her bloom, and the Persian Lilacs whose day was nearly 
over. 

The noon quiet was made musical by the birds, the crooning ring-dove, 
the ecstatic bulbul, the oriole fluting his liquid note as he flew in flashes of 
gold from tree to tree. Upon the clover-scattered grass the hoopoes strutted, 
and the cock-sparrows danced in tense blandishments before their loves. 
The Head Gardener rose from his labours at the prescribed hours, and stood 
and knelt and lay prostrate upon his face in prayer, and the sound of his 
voice audibly conversing with his God was mingled with the rushing of the 
waters and the plashing of the fountains. 

* * 
* 

The colour note of this garden is green and purple ; its character 
majestic. Its proportions so noble, that notwithstanding the high moun- 
tains and precipices that rise so far above it, it conveys itself the sense of 
dignity and greatness. It has an air of Versailles, as of formal Majesty ; 



58 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

but more human, as Majesty is in the East. Yet it has many intimate and 
lovely haunts as well, as every garden should have. 

To me, as I sat here, it seemed above all this to offer that exquisite 
something that an old-world garden in England has to bestow upon its 
votaries, upon that one day of Summer that attains Perfection. 

Yet as I sat here and brooded upon the loveliness of the garden I 
learnt that there was yet one thing lacking to it ; such an Eden I realized 
was not made for Man to walk in alone ; and had I failed to discover this for 
myself, those secluded terraces yonder, and old Ronsard who lay beside me 
upon the grass, would have brought the knowledge to my ear. Moreover, 
there was the Spirit of the garden. This garden was destined by him who 
made it for a place of pleasure, and the soul which animated him haunts 
it still. It offers perfection ; but only to one who will consent to share it 

with another. 

* * 

« 

Towards sunset I took the shikara and made a little tour of the inner 
lake, where the splendid Lotus blooms in her season and reeds and lilies 
give shelter at all times to water-hens and the small lake terns. Here I 
found their eggs laid upon the surface of the lake. A thunderstorm came 
drifting over the valley and the castle of Hara Parbat, making marvellous 
pictures of light and shadow, and filling the reeds with wind. Yet the 
little terns rode secure upon their lily leaves, and their eggs lay exposed with- 
out harm to the elements. The young moon shone above the dark fragments 
of cloud, her image trembling in the water. By the pier-head where the 
waters of the garden fall in music into the lake, rows of earnest Moslems 
stood concluding their day's enjoyment in reverent prayer, their faces lit 
by the gathering storm. Along the road behind them passed the goat- 
herds with their silky flocks, on their way to the mountain pastures. Grey 
herons flew with slow rhythmic beat of wings between sky and water. 
Wonderful colours played upon the high cliffs whose image was reflected 
in the sombre waters. Many boats, laden with those who were returning 
to the city, made their way across the lake to the slow plashing of their 
oars. A few still lingered by the pier under the dark shadows of the chinar 



THE NISHAT BAGH 59 

trees, and far into the night tlie flames of their cooking fires glinted across 
the dark surface of the Lake, and the sound of their voices singing in unison 
was borne above the stillness. 

Here and there only, a man sat alone, motionless, looking out into the 
darkling night, lost in contemplation, his heart filled with the mystery of 
life. 



1 



CHASHMA-SHAHI 



i 



CHAPTER X 

CHASMA SHAHI 

A Summer Dawn in Kashmir is a lovely thing, like a piece of music or some 
frail yet immortal verse. It comes in a wave of primrose over the peaks, 
and is followed by a divine radiance, as of heliotrope inspired with life or 
the awakening of a soul, and then by the sword-like glitter of Day, passing 
with the hours into a faint and misty remoteness. On the Lake itself are 
deep shadows and reflections, the silver gleam of oars, the glint of white 
stakes, the stooping forms of the weed-gatherers outlined darkly against 
the morning. The quay lies empty, and the last of the pleasure-seekers 
is stealing across the water in his boat, back to the toil of the City. 

My own destination is the Chasma Shahi, or Royal Fountain, and I 
drive along the barred highway, with its tall poplars like a regiment in line, 
in the incomparable freshness of the morning. We presently come to an 
orchard in which I am fain to pause and gather a handful of cherries. For 
" the cherry," wrote the Emperor Jahangir in his memoirs, " is a fruit of 
pleasant flavour, and one can eat more of it than of other fruits. I have in a 
day eaten up a hundred and fifty of them " ; an example that I am willing to 
emulate upon this fine Summer morning. And again, " There was an 
abundance of Cherries on the trees each of which looked as it were a round 
ruby, hanging like globes upon the branches " ; which seemed to me a just 
observation. 

At the Chasma Shahi Shah Jahan built a Pavilion, and laid out a little 
Persian garden with fountains and water-falls, in terraces lifted high 
above each other ; and here one may still pass a day of enjoyment, 
and drink of the spring which gushes forth with the same purity and un- 
failing abundance as it did in his day. The old buildings with their Mogul 

61 



62 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

grace have passed away beyond recognition, and newer and less worthy 
ones built by the Maharajas of Kashmir have taken their place ; but the 
beauty and seclusion of the spot survive. Here was never any pomp or 
ceremonial, but a place of exquisite repose ; and so it continues to this day, 
haunted as of old by the Divinity of the Spring, and overlooked by moun- 
tains whose plumes are as the iridescent sheen of a peacock. Yet the 
place has a wistfulness, for the memories it holds of departed Kings. 

Outside upon the rough hill-side the wild-rose blooms, the ploughman 
calls as of yore to his toiling steers ; but for the Great, a glory has departed, 
and you feel this at the little garden in its loneliness on the hill-side. 

Some way from it and very near the splendour of the Nishat Bagh, 
there is another such called the Chashma Hussain. It also has its spring 
and pool of pellucid water ; its traces of old water courses and fretted stones, 
half buried in the fields ; but no one seems to know who Hussain was. 
Some say he was a merchant from Ispahan, and others that he was a noble 
of the Court. It matters little. The water is there, and the green grass, 
and the wind blows as of old in the boughs of the great chinars that shadow 
it by the road. 



Towards evening I left for the Nasim Bagh, the sun blazing on the 
Lake. Boats in its light glowing like brass and doubled in the water, stole 
away, their colours fading with the sun, into violet shadows ; while 
others moved like black velvet hearses carrying some dead man to his grave. 
The sun at last sank behind the yellow gilt-edged hills, and the whole circle 
of the lake gleamed with prismatic colours. The high crests of the Pir Pantsal 
had that remote and crystal air, as of great jewels beyond human attain- 
ment ; and the benediction of evening settled upon the water, like the 
Peace which comes when life is over and passion is stilled. 



Subha dar Bdgh-i-Nishit Morning at the Nishat Bagh 

Sham dar Bdgh-i-Ndsim. And Evening at the Nasim. 



CHAPTER XI 

THE NASm BAGH 

Az bihistUe 'Adan Naaim dmad. 

The Nasim is the antithesis of the Nishat Bagh, not only as the couplet 
suggests but in its sentiment. For while the Nishat, with its rushing 
waters and sparkling fountains is still in the pride of life, the Nasim is a 
place overtaken by serene yet extreme old age. Its air is as of an Indian 
Summer, and an old red ox I saw there basking and dozing in the sun at 
the foot of an aged chinar seemed to me to embody its character. The 
spirit of the garden had entered into him and taken form. 

Often described as the first of the Mogul gardens of Kashmir, and attri- 
buted to Akbar, it was actually laid out by Shah Jahan, within reach of his 
new city and castle of Nagar-nagar. It is now no more a garden ; but a 
beautiful old Park, with deep glades through which the sunlight and shadow 
fall upon its velvet sward. It has in its grand way a touch of Magdalen 
deer-park ; but it is less a work of Art. For one can measure its proportions 
and see right through it to the mauve waters of the I^ake, and to the snow- 
spangled mountains beyond. The trees still beautiful are old and dying. 
Most of them are hollow, and their central trunks, if you look upward into 
the green majesty of their boughs, are black and withered, their life pro- 
longing itself for a space in the great lateral branches — like the Empire in 
its decline. But in their youth it is said they were nourished with draughts 
of milk ! 

Its old containing walls that shut out the vulgar world have all but 
disappeared. You can trace them here and there, and their great founda- 
tions by the lake. Its fountains and conduits, its pavilions and belvederes, 
its gardens of roses, narcissus and lilac, have passed into soft swelling 

mounds and grassy hollows. 

I es 



66 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

The Park lies open, a beautiful and ancient woodland, through which 
the lake breezes blow, making it the very abode of serene and tranquil 
peace, while its white iris clusters lend it an almost feminine charm. 
Nightingales sing in it, and doves murmur ; rooks make their homes 
in its hollow trees, and the little sparrows feed undisturbed upon its lawns. 
Kites wheel above it in the blue bays and estuaries of sky. The cattle 
of the countryside wander through its glades, and sheep browse upon 
its herbage ; while upon days of festival, and since it has long ceased to be 
the exclusive haunt of an Emperor which it were death to trespass upon, 
long files of the village people drift across it to the neighbouring ziarat of 
Hazrat Bal. 

It is become a place to idle in, to ruminate in on the passing show and 
vanity of life. It makes no active claim upon one's senses, or upon the 
wells of one's surprise. It is a place of Benedictions, chanting softly in 
undertones its Nunc Dimittis ; a place for those who have turned the sunny 
side of the hill, and see before them the long shadowy vale of evening with 
its quiet joys and subdued enjoyments ; a beautiful mellow old place such 
as one might come upon in an ancient corner of England. Hence much 
loved by the English. 

May it rest in peace. 



NASIM 



V^ 



t/i; 




.^»f 



CHAPTER XII 

HAZRAT BAL 

How different is the scene at Hazrat Bal, when the people are gathered 
together there for the festival of the Prophet's hair ! Far as one can see 
across the waters the boats are gathering ; and every vantage point along 
the shore, where willows and chinars yield shelter from the blinding sun, is 
closely packed with the prows of their boats, each laden with its pilgrims 
and holiday-makers from the City. Many are bedecked with embroidered 
rugs and cushions, upon which friends sit together in harmony, with silver 
hiiquahs and musical instruments, and samovars and little cups of tea. The 
boats are bright with the faces of children, and in the humbler ones there 
are women to add their charm ; while here and there a courtezan with her 
brazen glance and red lips makes way in her boat through the assembled 
crowd. The women of the upper classes stay sadly at home. 

Before the Ziarat, in its great court under the chinar trees, a dense 
crowd is gathered for prayer, and there is scarcely room to stir. It is a 
quiet and orderly congregation which falls automatically into serried lines 
which culminate in those who are assembled upon the platform of the shrine, 
about the gilded litter in which is visible the person of the High Priest. 
Within, there are lights gleaming amidst the stately columns of Cedar 
that support the roof of the Ziarat. At intervals of space amidst the 
kneeling multitude, there stand eloquent preachers, whose purpose it is to 
address them in the articles of their faith, and to lead them in song. 

The climax is reached when the whole mass of people rises and bends 
its head to the dust. In wonderful unison these waves of humanity rise 
and faU, as though inspired by but one volition. It is a strange and stirring 
sight, here, in the hot sunlight, and under the whispering shade of the great 

67 



68 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

chinar trees. And when the service is over and the Prophet's hair is held 
aloft, a milk-white dust ascends like incense from the soles of those who 
strain forward for a glimpse of the priceless relic, hiding the multitude from 
sight. 



At six o'clock in the evening I moved with the people across the silver- 
grey water to the Shalimar. There were countless boats upon the lake, and 
there was the sound of plashing oars, of voices singing, and of a people out 
for a holiday. The bright colours of the shikaras, with their pink and red 
and orange awnings, were reflected in the water, and the scene was one of 
the brightest animation. Our approach lay through shallow marshy waters, 
lined with pollard willows and covered with green scum, and it seemed an 
ignoble one to an Imperial garden ; markedly inferior to that which takes 
one to the threshold of the Nishat Bagh. Its effect was of concealment, as 
if from fear. This cannot have been so in the days of Jahangir. 

The Canal became gradually well-defined and bordered by stately 
chinars as we neared the garden ; but here again the rice-fields of the 
peasantry had encroached upon its dignity. In by-gone days this narrow 
water must have been the scene of many a splendid ceremonial, and many 
a nobleman must have come slowly up it in his barge, with a superb equip- 
ment, but fear at his heart, lest he should fail in the presence of Majesty. 

Even now something might be done to restore the beauty of this 
approach, by extending the avenue, sweeping the canal of its weeds, and 
restoring its brick foundations. The grass track beside might be laid afresh, 
and flowers planted beside it, while weeping willows might be made to take 
the place of the ugly pollards at the marshy junction of the canal with the 
waters of the lake. The outer walls and gates of the garden might be 
renewed. ... 

It was not till I reached the Diwan-i-Khas of Shah Jahan that the 
dignity of the garden fell upon me, and I ceased to question its fame. Here 
the black and green marbles were superb ; and even in the dusk I could 
trace the amphitheatre of crags and mcftintains, and the snow-capped peak 
of Mahadev, which carry its beauty to a triumphant conclusion. Yet 



HAZRAT BAL 69 

withal, this garden, this far-famed ShaUmar, suggested to me a Pleasance, 
rather than an Imperial residence ; which at one time it was. Its terraces, 
I could see, rose gently and almost imperceptibly above each other. It 
was a place, I thought, for a king to be happy in, to walk in with some lovely 
woman, to feast in of summer nights with his intimate friends, even to 
receive in with some state and splendour when his obligations made it 
imperative that his leisure should be invaded ; but it did not give me the 
impression of a stately garden like the Nishat. 

Its past seemed to linger in all that I saw before me ; and the Shalimar 
I thought revealed the life of Jahangir and Nur Mahal — his Light of the 
Palace — of the indolent artistic and pleasure-loving Emperor, who would 
have given up the whole of his mighty empire were Kashmir but left to 
him ; who placed the keys of his majesty in the fair hands of a woman ; 
who wrote couplets upon a sudden inspiration, and fell into ecstasies over 
the glow and beauty of a cherry given to him to eat ; who became intoxicated 
with wine o' nights, and went to bed in tears ; yet was withal a King. Here 
as it seemed to me was not the Versailles of a Louis Quatorze ; but the 
garden of a Prince who was above all a Lover, and of a man through whose 
temperament there ran the thread of an ineffective genius. 



"I ordered a stream to be diverted, so that a garden might be made, 

such that in beauty and sweetness there should not be in the inhabited 

world another like it." 

Memoirs of Jahangir. 




THE SHALIMAR 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE SHALIMAR 

Un des plus beaux jours de ma vie, as old Marbot would have said ; for 
upon this day I saw the Shalimar at its best. The garden was thronged 
with the holiday-folk from yesterday's festival, the fountains were playing, 
and its stream, " like a river of Paradise," was here as tranquil as a summer's 
noon, there a cascade of silver quivering with light and animation as it fell 
in thunderous music into the shining pools. 

The garden was indeed full of music this day ; music of waters, music of 
doves, music of the little skylarks singing in the cages brought with them by 
the city people, music of the free nightingale high up in the green-gold tracery 
of the chinar trees, music of children's voices, and of those of the artistic 
pleasure-loving crowd who know so well how to enjoy so exquisite a place. 

What perfect groups they made here by the silvery waters and under 
the shady trees ! Here was one, a circle of friends playing cards upon the 
edge of the pool that surrounds the black marble of Shah Jahan's Pavilion, 
and upon the fringe of a lawn that was snow-white with daisies. They were 
so careful not to impinge upon its beauty. 

Upon the flagged edge of the soft canal, resting their arms upon a 
carved pedestal of imperial days, were two little girls in blue and green, 
with the grace in miniature of grown women, poetic, with the unconscious- 
ness of childhood in their forms and attitudes, gazing wistfully into the 
deeps where the waters spring into the pool below. Upon the corner of a 
terrace that was hung with roses, and shaded by a dark cypress tree, sat one 
who might have been old Omar himself, so tranquil and meditative was his 
figure, as of one who would see in the flowing stream, the passing of life, 
and in the roses as their petals fell and died, its brief conclusion. 

71 



72 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

Here upon the enamelled grass a rare group of women sat, with their 
babes about them, the rich colours of their garments reflected in the olive 
water with a thousand scintillations ; here friends and associates climbed 
the garden stairs hand-in-hand, as in some picture of an old Persian garden ; 
here one sat alone under the swaying boughs of a plane tree ineffably happy 
in the singing of his bird above him. A look of sympathetic delight lay 
upon his face ; and when to test him I asked him if he would sell it, he 
replied, "O never Sir! it is my Love, my Ashik, the joy of my heart." 
So it was, and when he took it away an hour later he enveloped its cage 
in yet another cover of flowered chintz, while he drew a third from under 
his robe, to show me the extent of his solicitude. 

Here were groups like Abraham and his posterity about the base of a 
great chinar that had seen three hundred years of life. 

If trees could speak what might these superb creatures, whose hospitality 
we enjoy and pass on, tell us of the wonders of this garden,' and of the passions 
it has known ! 

For there are some here that knew the Mogul Empire in its prime ; 
that grew here in the days of Jahangir and Nur Mahal, and lent their shade 
to the magnificent Shah Jahan. Every yard of this garden is filled with 
memories of some of the mightiest and the loveliest of this earth. Their 
names and their fame remain ; but of their blood only a few survive, some 
in exile beyond the seas, and others in poverty amidst the dust of those 
sun-tortured plains. ... . 

But the humble survive ; and an old gardener told me that as far back 
as his family had any recollection they had worked upon the soil of the 
Shalimar, drawing no pay ; adscriptes glehae. 

" In the days of Shah Jahan the Padishah," he said, " nine hundred 
gardeners were employed at the Shalimar, but now we are only twenty 
one." 

This old man was full of wisdom and a sort of gentle philosophy. In 
the course of his ministrations he swept away a whole field of daisies that 
blossomed before me. 

" You deserve to be hanged," I suggested. 

He smiled benevolently and replied, "So be it, Huzoor ; but you will 



THE SHALIMAR 73 

have to bring me back to life again, for in ten days they will be more plentiful 
than ever.". . . 

The City folk who come here for a holiday deeply appreciate the beauty 
and charm of the Shalimar. None ever commits an offence against good 
taste, and hence it comes that there are no " Verboten." Trespassers are 
not warned to keep off the grass, and there is no head-gardener with a sour 
face, or policeman to keep the law. 

So it came that I was at liberty to bring my books and a chair, 
and sit all day in the garden, even to the extent of having my meals served 
there from the boat beyond the walls ; as if it were my own. 

These things are possible here in this Garden of a dead Emperor, because 
the people who use it from generation to generation, have the priceless gift 
of refinement in the intercourse of life. When they come here they become 
a part of the garden ; and when they have gone, the garden smiles, on 
as if they had never been. Think of Hampstead after a bank holiday ! 

* 

Evening at the Shalimar. Evening had now come, and the last ray of 
sunlight had gone with the last of the pleasure-seekers. A wonderful peace 
descended upon the Shalimar. Its fountains were stilled, and its great 
cascades no longer filled the pavilions with their music as of the sea. But 
the birds still sang on, the murmuring doves and the ecstatic nightingale, 
and the after-glow of the sunset flushed the mountain crags that overlook 
the garden with indescribable madder and rose, while Mahadev soared up 
with the lustre of a Dolomite peak. The waters still lingered in the pools 
about Shah Jahan's pavilion, still as a mirror ; and in their shallow depths 
were reflected the black marble and finished grace of a by-gone day, and 
the drooping foliage of this season's chinars. 

I passed out by a wicket beyond the garden walls, where is the little 
stream to which it owes its life. The high aqueduct of Imperial days which 
bore it loftily across the countryside, is no longer used, and the present 
channel fittingly follows a more lowly course through the fields and hamlets 
of the people, which it waters when not required at the Shalimar. Here 



74 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

the hereditary gardeners have their freeholds, and in the twilight across 
their acres, under the willow trees, I could see their burying places white 
with iris. Heref, as ever in the East, I found that sharp contrast between 
the common world that lies open to the eye, and the splendid seclusion of the 
Great — on one side of the garden wall, Nature, brutal and harsh as in the 
plains of India, gentle and unadorned as here ; on the other. Art, inspired 
by the enthusiasm and splendour of an Imperial race. 

Long after the darkness had fallen, and the birds had ceased to sing, 
and the stars had begun to shine, I found the hereditary gardeners at work, 
by lamplight, transplanting their flowers in the cool night and irrigating 
the grassy spaces. The waters of the canal continued also to run, though 
the stream was cut off, and the cascades in the lower garden to murmur ; 
for the great reservoirs take several hours to empty themselves. 

I dined in the south colonnade of Shah Jahan's pavilion, whose marble 
still retained the warm and vital glow of the sunlight that had beaten upon 
it, long after the chill of night had fallen ; and for an hour after that I sat 
by the pool's edge under the green marble pillars of the northern colonnade, 
facing the serrated mountains and the white peaks. So bright was the 
starlight that the mountain-wall was almost luminous, and the snow-fields 
of Mahadev were clearly visible as such, yet wrapped in the mystery of the 
night, and set as it were with the stars for jewels. I could see reflected in 
the waters the dark forms of the cypresses and the hosts of Heaven, and as 
I looked the earth moved and the constellations rose in the vault above me, 
and new stars emerged from moment to moment into vision. 

Afar off, outside the garden walls, I could hear the rippling music of 
the stream, and the voices of the night, in such undertones as commonly 
pass for stillness ; and when a light passed at the far end of the garden, a 
small thing flickering like a glow-worm, its reflections lit up the beautiful 
tracery on the pedestals of the marble columns, so polished was their 
surface. 

The mystery of the Night enveloped me, and the life of Shah Jahan 
rose up before my eyes, so that I saw in the darkness the gleam of his tents, 
the silken awnings over this his summer pavilion, the light in his inner 
chamber ; a frail boat upon the canal below the pavilion, rich carpets upon 



HAHy.t HiMi aom'tUA 3«iT-5IAttiJAH8 MHT TA THOIK 



NIGHT AT THE SHALIMAR-THE EMPEROR SHAH JAHAN 



I 



-■ * 



-«r-»'-','2B''?; 



-SJ^IS.'-. 



THE SHALIMAR 75 

the floor, and heavy curtains of velvet between the side rooms and the 
central chamber. I saw the magnificent Emperor rise from his couch and 
look out upon the jewelled night, his mind vexed by some political anxiety 
though his soul rejoiced in the splendour of the firmament above him. His 
face was the face of an Emperor, but also of an Artist ; as sensitive as it was 
proud and imperious, and lit with the high vision of the creative mind. He 
had made more exquisite his father's Shalimar, he was yet to accomplish, 
through the gateways of sorrow, the masterpiece of the world. 



T . 



' Alas, how fares my pleasure-house to-night ? 
Sway Zahi's waters to the warm night breeze ? 
And do the soft doves with their old delight 
Miunmur dear mysteries in the olive trees ? " 

Mutamid, King of Seville, 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE ISLE OF CHINARS 

I WOKE at dawn at the Isle of Chinars. The sun was long in rising above 
the eleven thousand feet of Mahadev ; but his advent was heralded by 
shafts of light which shot upward through the white puffs of cloud, and 
bathed in a golden glamour the opposite castle of Hara Parbat and the 
snow-white Pir Pantsal. The lake was like a burnished mirror in which 
all things were imaged, from these luminous wonders to the dark olive 
shadows of the mountains that frown above the Nishat Bagh. 

The Isle offers a beautiful vantage point for a survey of the entire lake, 
but it is sad with memories of departed glories. Of its four chinars, one 
has long since gone, another lifts its maimed trunk in the last stages of its 
dissolution, a third still soars magnificently up above the tranquil waters, 
though decay has seized its vitals, the fourth alone is yet in its vigorous 
prime, having apparently been planted on the death of its forerunner. 
Lovely as is the scene that awaits one here at dawn, when the whole of this 
secluded comer of the world is bathed in the radiance of a new day, the 
impression it conveys is one of profound melancholy ; so lone is the little 
island, so shattered are all its human associations. 

One can see that this small and solitary place was designed for pleasure, 
for the reception of singers and dancers, of an outer multitude of guests 
upon the water ; or, it might be, for the retreat of lovers, who would be of 
the world, but would have it solely to themselves. But its last human 
tenant half a century ago was an ascetic, who sat brooding on the emptiness 
of life in the hollow of the dying chinar, and even he has gone, and the 
hooded crows alone find a habitation where Jahangir and Nur Mahal dallied 
with life, and nightingales are reputed to have sung. Even the marble 

77 



78 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

pavilion with its white colonnades that graced the island in the days of our 
own early travellers, the practical Vigne and the sentimental Hugel, has 
gone, and the harsh ruins of the terraced platform from which it rose, only 
detract from what might otherwise be a happy little pastoral island, or soft 
meadow of daisies scattered amidst the grass. Nowhere else upon the 
shores of this lake, where the transitoriness of Power is so strikingly yet 
beautifully portrayed, does one feel its tragedy as here. The character of 
the exquisite isle has vanished as completely as that Viceroy of Kashmir, 
who at the height of a festival upon the island, and in the midst of all that 
could please his sense and flatter his pride, was summoned away by the voice 
of a royal messenger, to meet his fate at the hands of his enemies. 

It was not till Night had fallen that the painful emotions that brood 
about the island became stilled, and that I was able to enter into its loveli- 
ness. Then there came as it were a renascence of its earlier life. The sky 
became jewelled with stars, a young crescent moon hung over the Nasim 
Bagh, and the surface of the lake was calm as Nirvana itself. The moun- 
tains beyond Til Bal were of so diaphanous a blue, where they projected 
like some headland into the Ocean, that they seemed divested of all that 
was material save their form alone ; and the white summits and vast barrier 
of the Pir Pantsal were yet fainter, like the visions of a dream. Lights 
burnt under the dark water-line of the Nasim, where some boats lay at 
anchor, and a twinkling came from the shrine of the Prophet's Hair, with 
the sound of plaintive voices, intoning some litany of the night. 

Solomon's Throne stood up like a shadow in the starry night, and the 
high ramparts of Hara Parbat strung their battlements against the gloom, 
but of the city of a hundred and thirty thousand souls that lay between 
them — ^the Capital of Kashmir — ^there was no hint, neither in light nor 
soimd. The City was as completely veiled as though it had never been. 

The Island stands in the deepest and most open part of the lake, and 
the clear waters encompass it like a sea. A tense silence engulfs it and 
broods over it in these dark hours, and this night there was not so much as 
the rustle of a leaf in the trees overhead. 

Yet the stars shone with an amazing brilliance, and the imiverse moved 
upon its appointed course. 




FATE AND THE PLEASURE-LOVER 



■J J i^i • 






t 

CHAPTER XV 

HABBAK 

The terraces of Habbak catch the eye from afar, and when one arrives at 
the garden one realizes that this was in plan and purpose the most stately 
of all the old Mogul gardens on the lake. Its ruined walls and outer bastions, 
its far-flung terraces and steep waterfalls, its carved waterways and sunk 
pools, still linger in all the sadness of failure to remind one of those departed 
days. Here more than elsewhere upon the borders of this Elysian lake one 
is struck with the Havoc that is the twin of Splendour in the East. 
All the old buildings have gone ; the graven stones that lent their 
aid to the music of falling waters are shattered beyond repair, and the 
channels in which the waters of the garden glided as they still do at the 
Shalimar, are choked with weeds. 

Yet in their midst the Roses of a past age still struggle to live ; yet are 
there beautifvd places in this Garden of Desolation. If you place yourself 
at its centre, upon its loftiest terrace where two dark and aged Cypresses 
still stand sentinel, you will see about you fields of scarlet poppies — -loved 
flowers of life — the far lake shining below, and the snow-spangled mass of 
Mahadev rising like an Alp into the mist of the morning sunlight. 

Who made this garden and when ? and why has Death overtaken it, 
in defiance of all its pride of place, 'of its high walls and princely terraces ? 

The story as told me by Pundit Anand Kaul of Kashmir is as 
follows : 

In the years 1665 to 1668, in the days of the Emperor Aurangzeb, there 
ruled in Kashmir as Governor for the Mogul Empire, one Saif Khan, a great 
nobleman who was seized with a passion for creating here a garden that would 
excel in beauty and grandeur even the Shalimar and the Nishat Bagh. He 

79 



8o THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

brought from the Sindh Valley a stream to water his garden, after the 
Persian manner, and to give its life to its fountains, its grottos and its 
cascades. But before his design was fully accomplished, one greater than 
he, his master the Emperor, recalled him to Delhi. The groves of chinar 
trees, and the alleys of Cypress that were to have graced it, remained un- 
planted, or languished from the lack of sustenance. The garden having 
thus remained shadowless, a Poet wrote of it in irony 

Sayih gar nist Saifdbdd rk 
Mitwan paighambare bdghdt guft, 

which being interpreted means 

Saifabad has got no shade 

Let Its call it the Prophet amongst Gardens. 

After Aurangzeb the Empire waned and died, and there was no one 
who took any account of Saifabad till in the year 1870, the Maharajah 
Ranbir Singh of Kashmir in one of those fits of commercial endeavour to 
which Indian Princes are liable, started here, where a garden was to have 
bloomed, flour and rice-pounding mills worked by water power and prisoners 
from the jail, for a profit. Then came an abortive Silk Factory ; and in 
the end Peace once more descended upon the ruins of the garden of Saif Khan. 



CHAPTER XVI 
TYL BAL 



From the ruined pleasaunces of Saifabad, with all their emotional appeal, 
I passed in a shikara up the Arrah river, and found my House-boat that 
had come slowly away from the Isle of Chinars, moored in a shady corner 
under willow trees. Here I passed the day amidst the quiet surroundings 
of rural life, upon a secluded water that is the abode of tranquillity and 
unconditional peace. On either bank there is a footpath shaded by close 
lines of young willow trees, through whose light and shadow the people 
pass ; one with a hoe to his labour in the fields, another with his pipe and 
a companion to beguile the way, another a woman with her infant seated, 
bright-eyed, upon her shoulders and observant of the world. Along the 
stream which flows at so gentle a pace that it suggests eternity as available 
for the accomplishment of a life's purpose, a boat now and then passes laden 
with grass and fuel or bricks from the City, whose owner with a placid joy 
upon his face sings some Kashmiri love-song in an undertone that matches 
his mood and the sentiment of the little river. Along the banks under the 
green and gold of the willows, a black cow moves a few yards every hour, 
grazing the rich herbage by the water, a hen with her brood struts up and 
down, and a family of geese cackle contentedly, their white beauty imaged 
in the river's green surfaee. Away in the fields beyond the countless stems 
of the willow trees a man's head with a white cap on it bobs up and down 
as he plies his hoe, and under the shade of a mulberry by a cottage wall, 
his children are busily and happily at work, the lad plying his needle— for it 
is a man's occupation in these parts— the little giri at a spinning-wheel, and 
the baby gazing with large eyes at the footpath upon which strange things 



82 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

happen. Hoopoos of King Solomon and Golden Orioles flash amongst the 
willows, and doves croon all through the summer hours. 

Forgotten here are memories of departed greatness, the swing and 
purpose of the world. For here is a little corner, such as you might look 
for by an English river or a Dutch Canal, with the impress on it of infinite 
quiet and leisure and unnumbered days. 

Late in the evening of this day, when the shadows were lengthening 
and the sunlight was sweeping in great waves over the valley, I followed 
the little river up towards its source. It runs but a brief course from its 
snowy sources to the lake edge, and at each step it becomes more delicious, 
its green waters more transparent, its temperature nearly as cold as that of ice. 
Upon its banks I found many a charming homestead, with cows about, and 
silky goats, and pretty children, and bare-legged women husking rice ; and at 
one secluded corner I came upon a Ziarat, a sort of religious idyll, hidden 
by the river's brink under the shelter of the noblest trees of the valley. 
Within, in the cloistral silence and peace of the enclosure, there were the 
shrines of dead saints, like little doUs'-houses, with jasmine growing through 
the roof, and coloured threads at the lattice marking the vows of women 
eager for a babe, and little chirags, the earthen lamps of the humble, with a 
pebble in each to save the oil — an economy that might amount to the hun- 
dredth part of a penny. There was here also a mosque with wild roses, 
irises and fritillaries growing about it, and a chain before its door, 
which those who wish to be understood as speaking the truth, in a land in 
which lies trip so easily off the tongue, hold fast while they call upon their 
Prophet to witness to their veracity. Even in this humble place the soul 
strives dimly after the perfection of which it knows, and makes its unceasing 
appeal for union with its God. 

Leaving the shikara, which could travel no further by reason of the 
increasing speed of the water as it swept over the pebbly shallows, I crossed 
the bordering rice-fields to the village of Burzihama, and the high uplands 
above, where I could see that I had reached an earlier age in the life of the 
valley. And here appropriately were great monoliths, like Druid altars, 
relics of that distant time. Looking down upon the lake spread before me, 
and the river-levels of the Jhilam, and then to these intermediate lands 



TYL BAL ^ 83 

that lie between mountain and valley, I realized that man must have been 
here long before the lake of Kashmir swept over the impeding gorge at Bara- 
mulla. I had a vision of the landscape as he saw it in those remote days ; 
the Great Lake spreading like a greater Leman from mountain foot to moun- 
tain foot, and rough hamlets upon its fringe and upon the fan-shaped spaces 
where the side-valleys broadened to the lake ; while Solomon's Throne and 
Hara Parbat rose like islands above its surface. So versatile is this vale of 
Kashmir; so swiftly does one pass from impression to impression, from 
waters as still as glass to rushing streams and rapids, from green and gold 
haunts by secret margins, to these open uplands, where the sun blazes, and 
cattle pasture in the open day ! 

Nor was the feast of variety at an end, for turning away from here 
I followed the stream to its junction with the waters that passing from it 
inspire the Shalimar and still give it life. These waters that once they enter 
the garden are bent to the will of an Emperor, and are made to play over 
marble, and fall in cascades over compartments of light, here run with a 
joyous exuberance in and out amongst the willow trees, flush with green 
margins, grinding the wheels of flour-mills, bordered with wild roses and the 
white iris that blooms above the bones of dead men. 

At Harwan still higher up they have been trapped to fiU a lake of drink- 
ing water which now supplies the City; a work as characteristic in its 
purpose and execution of the British temperament as the Shalimar was of 
that of the splendid Mogul. The hamlets that once filled this valley of 
Dachigam have been removed, and a natural Park is now growing up under 
the superb heights of Mahadev, where the brown bear and the great Kashmir 
stag are protected, as well as other lesser creatures of the wild. Here now 
is a superb amphitheatre, with the lake as its arena, wrapt in the stillness 
of a place that is forbidden to men. 



CHAPTER XVII 

NAGINA BAGH 

The Nagina Bagh lies upon a secret water, which is like a lake within a 
lake, and I came upon it by hazard one afternoon when the sun, blazing 
over the Dal, compelled an escape to some quieter and more sheltered spot. 
A canal by the bridge of Kraliyar carried the shikara into this side water 
and landed us at the stairs under two aged chinars, which mark the entrance 
to the Nagina Bagh. Here we enjoyed the reflections of mountain and 
woodland in the still deep waters ; and in the evening cool walked up the 
main thoroughfare of the old garden, through its avenue of chinars, and its 
fields of poppied com, to the far containing-wall half-hidden under scented 
acacias. 

A slumberous stillness, broken only by the murmuring of doves, lies 
upon this secluded garden, far as it is from the frequented highways of the 
lake. Its old buildings, its pavilions and water-courses and flagged ways 
have all departed, its terraces lie hidden under grass, its formal beauties 
under the waving com ; yet it retains the sentiment of vanished days. One 
knows that the half-finished villa, and the patch of garden by the water 
which mark its present ownership, form no part of its inherent character. 
For the spirit that dwells here in this quiet place is the spirit of some old 
Mogul whose body long since ceased from being, and now lies mingled, it 
may be, with the dust of some distant burying-place in the plains of India. 

The world that encloses it is of entrancing beauty and peculiar to itself. 
It faces the Takht-i-Sulaiman, whose image dreams at its feet in the tranquil 
waters. Upon its right, as one looks upon this beautiful reflection, there 
is the castled hill of Hara Parbat, and beyond it the whole majesty and 
Arctic splendour of the Pir Pantsal. The garden runs parallel as it were 

86 



86 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

to this line of marvellous peaks and snowy spaces, which even in the dazzling 
glare and glow of the May sunlight look cold and pitiless as ice. On its 
left there is the sun- warmed peak of Mahadev and the whole line of mountains 
which over-hang the Nishat Bagh and the Shalimar, and brood in their 
splendour over the northern and eastern shores of the Dal lake. 
Late in the evening, when the sun is nearly gone, they are seized with a 
passionate glow of colour, that is of crystalline red or crimson, peculiar to 
them at this transitory moment ; and it is here in the cool deeps of this 
inner water about the Nagina Bagh that one may look to perfection upon 
their motionless reflections. 

The startling colours fade, as if the glow which animates them were too 
ardent to last for more than a few rapturous moments ; the stars shine out, 
and Hara Parbat, outlined against the sky, ceases for one instant to be the 
proud citadel of a kingdom, and becomes in its amethystine loveliness the 
gossamer castle of some Faery Queen. 

These wonders may be seen even by careless eyes, on a summer night, 
as one's boat passes slowly over the waters, on its homeward course from 
the Nagina Bagh to the exit of the Dal Lake. 

Not far from here, and secluded from observation, there may still be 
traced the canal along which Jahangir and Nur Jahan travelled o' moon-lit 
nights to their garden named the lUahi Bagh. Jahangir was a man of 
fancies like Ludvig of Bavaria, and there is a legend that his gilded pleasure 
barge was towed upon these occasions by a bevy of damsels of the Harem, 
the bells upon whose ankles made a music in the night. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

SOLOMON'S THRONE 

At early dawn in the month of May, when the birds were just beginning 
to sing, I came along the shadowy poplar avenues to the foot of this hill ; 
which from the earliest times of which there is record has been a symbol 
of piety to the people of the City. It was here, as is generally believed, 
that Jalauka, the son of Asoka, 

" Who by the white stucco of his fame made spotless the Universe," 

built the shrine of Jyestharudra over twenty centuries ago. Men have 
prayed here, and fought here with their backs to the great hill and in 
the shadow of the shrine in all these intervening years : and it remains 
to this hour the great land-mark of the City, and a magnet of the Soul. 
It is the place in all the valley from which to see Kashmir. I had not 
climbed far when the snowy peaks which engirdle the valley broke upon 
my vision ; yet faintly in the exquisite and elusive tints of morning. The 
main incidents of the valley itself were also to be seen, the river and 
the meadows and the trees, the roof-tops of the homes and the habitations 
of men. I climbed on, resisting the fascination of the view till I should 
reach the summit. Here and there a chikor broke from cover, one standing 
defiantly against the sky-line issuing his challenge to his peers, while 
another at my approach flung himself with intrepid wing upon the abysses 
which fall to the level of the plain. The grace and daring of his flight 
obsessed my mind as I toiled slowly, foot by foot, and inch by inch, upwards 
to Solomon's Throne. 

The opposite Peaks were now a-glitter with unmistakeable sunlight, 
and the long waves of gold came descending towards me from their majestic 

87 



88 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

heights, first past the uplands and forests of far Gulmarg, then to the level 
shores of the ancient lake which once filled the valley, and so from moment 
to moment, subtly, as if driven by some zephyr of the Gods, over the lucent 
pools and marsh lands, the rice-fields in whose humble surface the glory 
of the snows was mirrored, the lines of poplars which marched like a serried 
army across the plain ; and so to that which is the soul and impulse of the 
valley, the River, winding in voluptuous coils of beauty, here brooding 
in violet shadows, there radiant and shining in the amber and gold of 
the sun. 

By the time I had reached the summit of the hill and the foot of the 
Temple, whose superb foundations of cut and fashioned stone were laid 
here in days when the shadows that precede civilisation still lay heavy 
over Northern Europe, the sun was topping the Eastern Mountains that 
contain the valley, and the temple of Jyestharudra glowing as if born 
anew in his warmth was sending its shadow with that of the thousand feet 
of rock upon which it stands visibly across the plain. 

There in the sunlight clustered the red and tawny house-tops of Srina- 
gar, reaching away to Akbar's Castle and the fortress of Hara Parbat in 
serried masses, and feeling their way in more scattered echelon across the 
shallows and water-ways, to the floating gardens and purple spaces of 
the Dal. Here the sunlight had not yet reached, and I looked upon a 
fragment of the world that was yet asleep. On the River, life had begun ; 
the life of Man — for the procession of Nature, the images of heaven and 
the stars, sunlight and moonlight, are never absent from its fellowship. 
Boats were creeping down its tranquil waters, here gliding without a trace 
upon its current, there fretting it for a moment in transit across its surface 
from shore to shore. The poplar avenues, the great chinars, the apple trees 
and orchards, each formed their image in its surface, and a lone tree by 
its banks was doubled as in a dream. 

From these humble lights my eyes passed once more to the circum- 
ambient glory of the mountains, and in the clear radiance which enshrines 
them at this early hour, I could trace each snowy peak and summit and 
white-shrouded pass from Tatakuti at the far eastern end of the girdle to 
Nanga Parbat the high summit of a world, and nearer at hand, at the very 



J 



I 



SOLOMON'S THRONE 89 

threshold of the risen sun, to stately Haramukh, veined and splashed with 
silver. And while I was yet lost in the beauty of the morning, and the 
splendour of the world, the slow chanting voice of the priest of the Temple 
issued from within its precincts, and in the golden sunlight I saw assembled 
a party of pilgrims, gathered from distant corners of the earth, about this 
shrine of immemorial years. 



" Oh, comrade, fall aside 
And think a little moment of the pride 
Of yonder sun, think of the twilight's net." 

Abu'l-Ala. 



CHAPTER XIX 

ASOKA'S CITY 

The little temple of Pandrethan stands by the wayside, a mile or two up 
the river, where it curves in wide beauty at the foot of the Takht-i-Sulai- 
man. One might easily pass it by unnoticed, for it is sheltered from the 
high-road by a woodland of slim trees, through which the evening sun glows 
each day in bars of green and gold. A little stream meanders through this 
grove, and so falls murmuring into the river, as it has done since the days of 
Asoka the king ; more lasting in its frailness than all the mighty works of man. 

This stream has its birth in a clear spring in the court of the Temple, 
about which it is now suffered to wander at will, filling its interior. Frag- 
ments and outlines of the old containing walls of the Temple enclosure can 
still be traced ; but no longer do they serve their purpose of keeping intruders 
at bay, and the water-logged soil about the altar is pitted with the hoof- 
prints of the cattle that wander in here unchecked. 

Amidst these surroundings the little temple stands forlornly beautiful, 
with the benediction of time upon it, and the soft glow of each evening's 
sunlight to warm it into momentary life. The columns and capitals of the 
temple are dulled in their old chiselled beauty by the usury of centuries 
of wind and weather ; but the stone blocks of which the roof is composed, 
though shaken from their appointed place, and awaiting the hour of their 
dissolution, are still as smooth and sharply cut and perfect as upon the day 
they left the hand of their maker. Yet how softened in their colours by ' 
the passage of a thousand years ! 

Within, the roof retains its pristine forms, its circular lotus or wheel, 
which four figures at each corner sustain in its swift revolution, and its 
bold presentment of Vishnu, instinct with life and power. How many 



Last loneliest loveliest exquisite apart.' 



HiM>rp#L>{ •/! ?.^'A:u:r/ Kiit 



TRAVELLERS IN KASHMIR 



CHAPTER XX 

MANAS BAL 

I HAD seen Manas Bal at evening on my journey up the river. I desired 
to look upon its beauty once more before leaving the Valley, to sleep by 
its side, and enter into the intimacy of its companionship. I drove out to 
it therefore on the evening of my last day but one at the Capital, and the 
memory of this visit is one that I would willingly retain. My road lay at 
first along the great highway of the valley, with its serried lines of poplars 
on either hand, its lane of blue sky above these mighty walls of foliage that 
closed in the distant vista like the nave of a gothic cathedral, and its bars 
of light and shadow that lay across it like a weaver's pattern. Even in 
France and Lombardy there is nothing more symmetrically perfect than 
this. 

There were many other travellers abroad, some bound for India, urgent 
and speeding along in carts and tongas, others the slow quiet people of the 
country-side to whom this is the highway of their lives, stately women 
moving towards the City from the fields, and men behind their cattle with 
the stained implements of their toil. In the branches of the meeting poplars 
there was now and then the murmur of a dove ; now and then the sudden 
flight of an oriole, like living gold. It was a world in itself. 

And then we left it abruptly for a soft open road of the country, lined 
for miles with the small purple iris of Kashmir, and bordered on either 
hand by spreading fields. Here as we approached the river there were 
shrines and ziarats, and women filling their water-pots in the flush of the 
evening sunlight, and the sunset flaming down like the light from a great 
reflector out of the marshalled pearl and opal of the clouds. Here were 
flocks of sheep and long silky-haired goats in the meadows by the rice- 



96 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

fields, and so at length we came to the rambling wooden bridge at Sambal, 
where the river rushes between the piers and the laden cargo boats fight 
for a passage-way. 

At Nanni-nara on the further shore, a storm which had been gathering 
all the afternoon overtook us with thunder and lightning ; the winds of 
Heaven were let loose, and night closed in with pomp and majesty of sound. 

Rapidi fremitiis et murmura magna minarum. Large drops of rain 
fell, and the storm circled with superb and sweeping dominion over the 
dark mountains, the white head of Haramukh, and the cowering city. 

In the deadly stillness and tense silence which followed this passionate 
outburst, as though Nature had seized upon all the vital forces and swept 
theiyi along in the storm, I decided to sleep out under the stars, upon a 
ledge under a great chinar that overlooked the shimmering waters of the 
lake. Here I was presently joined by the Headman of an adjoining hamlet, 
the Village Watchman and a Shikari from Nanni-nara. These good people 
spoke of their several avocations, of flocks and herds and the spring crops, 
of the peace and confidence that had settled upon the country side since 
" Laren " came — (Sir Walter Lawrence who made the Revenue settlement 
and for the first time in history perhaps gave the unfortunate peasant of 
this valley his rights) — of their perception of the ill of untruth, and of their 
sins which in the past they said had rightly brought upon them misfortune ; 
of their dependence upon the will and clemency of God. 

One can tell that this is a sad people, who have borne for centuries 
with grief ; who have learnt to bend their heads to the storm, and have 
grown twisted and crooked in the process ; yet in whose hearts there survives 
a perception of the purposes of God, and an increasing desire to rise once 
more into the sunlight of nobler men. 

I endeavoured to induce the Headman and his Watchman to return 
to their homes ; but they assured me that they could not do so while I slept 
in the open ; so in somewhat singular company, for the son of a deceased 
Fakir and a Bartimaeus from the vicinity had surreptitiously joined the 
party, I passed the night under the stars. 

I awoke to find the night accomplished and day at hand. The birds 
were astir, and the stars in their altitudes aware of the coming of the Sun 



MANAS BAL 97 

were withdrawing into the luminous mysteries of space. Venus alone 
burnt clear over the gateways of the Dawn, chosen for her excelling beauty 
to meet the Sun upon the threshold of the morning. 

Soon even her loveliness waned and was lost in the triumphant coming 
of the God. The far snows flushed and flamed with Flamingo pink, most 
lovely at this the earliest hour of light. The swinging world accomplished 
its mighty evolution with the serene and perfect poise that comes from a 
master-hand ; and in silence the great drama of the opening day was 
carried to its superb conclusion. 

Life now became vocal in the singing of the birds, and their amours 
graced the idyllic hours. The sun appeared over the rim of the green hills 
that border the lake, and flashes of his light fell with a sudden beauty upon 
the tranquil surface of its waters. The boatmen rose up, and turning with 
a profound spiritual impulse, such as has almost gone out of our modern 
life, performed the solemn act of worship. 

It had been a perfect night, windless and star-lit, and shining in its 
earlier hours with the radiance of the waxing moon. Once when I woke 
to sleep again I saw her riding serenely in the clear firmament above me, 
her dark shadows falling upon the turf. A deep stillness lay at that hour 
upon the waters and the mountains and the trees ; yet was there some 
mystic influence abroad, as of the world's heart beating in the night watches. 
When I looked about me in the morning light and surveyed my sleep- 
ing-place, I found that it was one of a series of green terraces that had once 
marked the beauty of an Imperial Garden. I had slept here in the midst 
of these remnants of departed glory, and a cut in the hill-side that I had 
vaguely noticed in the dark as a place to be avoided, was now disclosed 
as the ruin of a water-fall that had once gleamed and murmured for an 
Emperor's pleasure. 

The stream that once animated it I found still flowing swiftly and 
silently on its way above the topmost terrace, under the sheer rocky walls 
of a mountain of Mediterranean hues. Here scattered over its surface, 
as I have so often seen them on the shores of the Inland sea, was a flock 
of goats moving to the barking of a dog and the cries of the goat-herds, 
while somewhat in the rear came the young kids, and the wounded and 



H 



98 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

sickly members of the flock, limping over the rocks. Yet here I felt as I 
never feel out of the East, that all these creatures were one, the herd and 
its owners ; that they were all of kin, and that but one soul beat through 
them all. 

By the lake edge in the yellow sunlight stood an old stone temple of 
classical form that was almost submerged, and the waters gleaming about 
it were as clear as glass. In those bygone days in which it was built, it 
must have stood upon the shore, and at morning and at evening some priest 
must have laid his flowers upon its altar, and chanted his litany. That 
it has survived the iconoclasm of subsequent ages may be due to its seclu- 
sion here, upon the rim of this secluded water; or to its very smallness, 
which left it as it were beneath contempt. 

We crossed the Lake, and as I looked down into its tranquil depths, 
in which the form and outline of the boat were mirrored, I saw that we 
but skimmed for a passing instant the surface of a world of hidden and 
secret beauty that lives on its own undisturbed life regardless of such tran- 
sitory incidents. From the bottom of the lake, where it was shallow, a 
forest of weeds like Firs in form and outline, rose up through the lucent 
waters, and in this strange country the fish glanced and darted about 
the business of their lives. 

Along the surface glided the canoes of the Fish-spearers, who stood erect 
at their prows gazing into the clear waters with a deadly gaze and inten- 
sity of purpose. A swift sudden plunge of the spear, and the hapless fish 
who was basking in the warm sunlight was borne aloft with six barbed 
prongs through his body, the victim of an incredil^e Fate. For a moment 
he gleamed there gasping and squirming in their terrible grip, and the next 
he was torn by a careless hand from the barbed points and flung with in- 
difference into the boat. His pain was mute ; but it must have been shatter- 
ing in its kind. 

In the centre of the Lake the waters are so deep that one can see nothing 
but the crystal image of the boat. 

So we came to the old-time garden on its western shore that is known 
as The Garden of Lalla Rookh. Its high walls and bastions speak of im- 
perial days, and the lake-folk say it was built by a King's Daughter. One 



MANAS BAL 99 

can see at least that it was in its time a very stately and magnificent garden, 
with its pleasaunce by the water and its stream falling swiftly from the upper 
terrace. A squatter has possessed himself of it now, and his fruit trees and 
poplars clothe its ruins and lend them the semblance of life ; but it needs 
the care of the State. It commands the loveliest view of this lovely water, 
facing as it does the misty snow-crowned valley of the Sind and its im- 
memorial highway into Central Asia. 

As we left the seclusion of the Lake there opened before us the marvel 
of the Pir Pantsal, its tented fields of snow and shining peaks, and its arrow- 
heads of white and blue, which mark Apharwat and the uplands of Gulmarg. 

Secluded, profound, and silent ; touched by the magic of Imperial 
times ; a vision of loveliness ; a haunt of peace ; a mirror of mighty peaks 
and ancient highways, Manasbal deserves all that has been said of it by 
travellers in its praise. 



BOOK II 

THE MOUNTAINS 



" Infinitely varied in form and colour, the Kashmir mountains are such as 
an artist might picture in his dreams." 

Sir Walter Lawrence. 





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M 



THE LIDAR VALLEY NEAR BLATKOL 



CHAPTER I 
FLOATING DOWN THE RIVER 

I LEAVE Srinagar in the early dawn, on the first stage of a journey that 
will carry me into the heart of those mountains that from the first day of 
my coming into the Valley have called me by their spiritual beauty to a 
more intimate approach. But for the first day of this new adventure my 
course still lies amidst the voluptuous scenes and the soft repose of the valley. 
The wooden bridges, the clustering houses of the city, one by one are left 
behind us, and the fuJl sunlight of morning finds us in the heart of the country- 
side through which the river upon which we move, wanders as if Time 
were naught. It is difficult to convey the sense of silken ease with which 
this journey is made ; for now even the current is with us, and the boat 
moves without an effort. The towing cord lies idle in loops by the prow ; 
the punting poles are gathered in a row upon the roof, the oars are silent, 
the crew recline at ease. A lad at the helm alone guides the progress of the 
boat. The satin river, full from shore to shore, moves without a sound, and 
through the windless hours there is scarcely a ripple to disturb its harmony. 
The landscape is of green fields and pasture lands, meadows and villages 
and trees. Beyond these there are the silver-crested mountains, misty 
and half asleep ; their splendour veiled and softened in the lustre of the 
river. Upon the lush pastures cattle graze, and ponies whisk their tails, 
and the air is filled with the song of the skylark, whose little body, rising 
with exaltation above the iris-fields, trembles afar in the summer haze. 
Boats go by, thatched with mouse-like straw and laden with the produce 
of the valley, and in the midst of such company we arrive at the marriage 
of the waters at Shadipur, where the lovely Sind runs into the arms of the 
Jhilam. Their union imparts an air of space and of rejoicing to the scene, 

103 



I04 



THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 



and we tie up here where a little island shrine marks the meeting of the 
Gods, for the noon-day rest. 

Here upon the grassy shore there is a glade of chinar trees, and deep 
shade, and relief from the glare of the river. One's body, which has ac- 
complished so little, yields itself with a primitive content and relaxation 
to the joy of the place and its dream-Uke sentient peace. 

Towards the afternoon I take the shikara and explore the lower courses, 
turning aside into meres of blue water, and clusters of reeds, under the 
uplands which swell here above the general level ; and it is thus that I 
come, with a feeling of enterprise rewarded, upon the remnants of an old 
Mogul Garden whose long grey wall with its comer towers faces the blue- 
ness of the pool. Here in truth is a fit place for a secluded pleasaunce, 
to which one whose life was engrossed with the intrigues of a court and 
the bustle of the world could retire for an interval of enjoyment or repose. 
So well was it chosen that one might pass it by upon many a journey down 
the river, which is but a short way from the mere's edge, without discover- 
ing its existence. Yet, hidden itself, it looks upon a world of far-spread 
beauty : the shimmer and splendour of the Pir Pantsal, and the valley 
brooding at its feet. 

Grey and old here in the flaming sun, these sad old towers and crumb- 
ling walls speak of one who sought after pleasure in a transitory life. 



Leaving the main river we passed up the Sind in the evening cool 
into an amphibious land where marsh and river were scarcely to be dis- 
tinguished from each other ; and circling about this, and sometimes losing 
our way, we found anchor for the night by a grassy shore. The 
swiftly moving river was about us, and upon its surface the moonbeams 
played and whirls and eddies raced ; symptoms of its secret life and passion. 
But the scene as I turned to sleep was one of deep calm, culled from some 
nameless world, upon which no human incident had left its trace. The 
blue mountains, with here and there a splash of snow, rose mistily above 
us, but vague and reticent as though they took no part in our lot or 
being. 



FLOATING DOWN THE RIVER 105 

I was not however the only new-comer to this recondite world. Beside 
me on the river's edge was another boat, in which two Englishwomen were 
travelling, and a little earlier in the evening I had seen them seated by a 
table on the grass, dining by the light of a lamp. They retired early, with 
the instinctive caution of women who are alone, and their boat lay silent 
and dark upon the waters; but long after they had withdrawn to its 
shelter their men-servants sat on about a fire in the open, talking in 
subdued voices. 



I 



CHAPTER II 

MORNING AT GUNDERBAL 

My boat was astir in the early dawn, and when I rose and looked out upon 
the world the scene was changed. The river, grey with molten snow and 
cold with the memory of its birth, was rushing on its way, the very symbol 
of prolific life, branching into numberless streams, hastening to unite itself 
again, curving and sweeping along; vital, multitudinous, one, like a pack 
of hounds in cry. 

About us were golden meadows of buttercups, and the dense thickets 
of a young plantation, in which willows, poplars, mulberries, walnuts, 
and chinars were straining after life. It was early in the morning and the 
full orb of the sun had not yet ascended into the open sky, but great shafts 
of light were streaming through the passes in the violet hills, and far across 
the valley, the white snows, remote and unearthly, were flushing pink. A 
soft mist trembled upon the face of the waters, lifting and vanishing as 
the Sim rose, and the dew-drops lay like silver on the grass. The banks 
of the river were scarce a foot above its waters, and along them the trackers 
struggled and fought their way, while the boat, filling the whole width of 
the river where it swept round from curve to curve, made its slow upward 
journey. 

Once more upon this journey I was impressed with the wonderful 
variety of this Happy Valley ; its gifts of infinity and space, mingled with 
the most homely and confiding charm ; and even as I write we have left 
the diverging waters, the struggle for place, for a stream wide and placid 
as the Vetasta itself; for open fields, and cattle by the home-steads, and 
yotmg lambs skipping on the grass, and the crooning of doves in imme- 
morial trees. 

107 



CHAPTER III 

GUNDERBAL 

At Gunderbal I was content to pass an idle day, preparatory to the journey 
into the mountains. It is a pleasant spot to do nothing in towards the 
end of May, for the ice-cold water that flows through it freshens the summer 
air, and under the heavy shade of the chinars there is shelter from the sun. 
The river is spanned by a light wooden bridge, and below it there are the 
ruins of a brick bridge with Mahomedan arches, built in a by-gone day. 
A lovely camping ground spreads here, with its wide sweep of close turf, 
its groves of umbrageous trees, and its secret canals and waters, in the coils 
of which the house-boats lie ensconced. One is here upon the threshold 
of the' mountains, whose great blue walls rise above the river, and at night 
under the full moon, these mighty forms look frail as the fictions of one's 
sleep. 

As I sat here by the high-way, while my tents were displayed, and the 
pack-ponies were collected for the morrow's journey, and my servants 
were busy with their preparations, the world took its customary way, foUow- 
. ing here some impulse of the soul, there some humbler purpose of life. Under 
a great tree a Travelling Saint was established, and about him his followers 
were assembled, in devout attitudes of attention. The Saint with his white 
beard sat with his back to the tree, and addressed them at intervals in 
parables and sententious words, and when he ceased from speaking there 
were murmurs of applause and there was the refrain of low music from some 
instrument. 

" God," he ended, " was one God ; and Mahomed was the prophet 
of God." 

Upon the road the Brahmin Pandits, who entertain other views, passed 

100 



no THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

to a neighbouring village, while their women in gay robes of blue and pink 
and green coloured the landscape like pictures out of a German Bible. 
Here was the East with all its simplicity and dramatic appeal. 

In the centre of the road, busy over some deep purpose and regardless 
of the show and vanity of life, there crouched three men, sifting the fine 
dust, sweeping their hands over the road's surface as a man does when 
moving in a dark chamber. Patiently they toiled, with tense features 
and an anxious air that slowly passed from confidence to despair ; until at 
last they sat disconsolate in the cloud of white dust they had raised by their 
labours, while the world passed on unheeding. At length they rose and 
approached me, their leader, a giant in proportions, coming forward with 
hands folded as we fold them in prayer. 

" Sir," he said, " we are three boatmen who were paid a day's wage 
this morning, and passing here by your presence one of us dropped a four- 
penny piece in that dust, and it has vanished. But we are poor people 
and this is a great calamity." 

" Well," I said, " if you had been more careful it would not have been 
lost ! " 

" Huzur," he replied, with tears upon the rims of his great eyes, while 
his fellows looked the picture of gloom — " it was our fate ; it was Kismet. Be- 
hold it was the will of God." 

It appeared to me that for once I could lift the burden of an unrelent- 
ing fate from predestined shoulders ; so I said, 

" Well, here is four pence ; go in peace," 

and they took it with many salutations and went off mightily relieved; 
yet reflecting it may be that had they been born under a happier star they 
would have had the sense to make it eight pence. 

It was while returning from this good deed done in a naughty world, 
that I slipped on the gang-way of my boat and fell into the ice-cold water. 
I remember feeling, as the water gave under my confiding feet, a sense of 
the abiding treachery of life. 



CHAPTER IV 

FIRST MARCH 

I ROSE at five with many good intentions ; but in the East no one hurries, 
and the sun was well up before my caravan was afoot. Our track lay up 
the Sind Valley, passing at first through villages, embowered in the shade 
of the old walnut trees and chinars, watered by running streams taken 
from the main river, and made beautiful by the wild rose. But the village 
folk were afflicted with goitre and dreadful to look at. By the way-side 
I came upon a party of Baltis, fresh from their bleak uplands, with their yaks 
and ponies, engaged in feeding greedily off the piles of half-ripe mulberries 
they had shaken from the trees. Here already was a people different from 
the Kashmiri of the Vale, and as I looked upon them and their felt-coats, 
their goat-hair girdles, their travel-worn air, the diversity and charm of way- 
faring suddenly came upon me. 

Further, where a bridge crossed the river and great boulders brought 
down a side valley made a shelving fan of chaos, there were the rem- 
nants of some old city, the carved pediments of a temple. And soon I 
was in the midst of a Bakarwal camp by the way-side, in which the whole 
tribe was gathered together, from the new-born babe to the aged and infirm 
Patriarch, in the midst of goats and sheep, and jars of milk, and unleavened 
bread upon the platter. Upon the road marched the multitudinous herd 
of the tribe. The vast convoy of sheep and goats and dogs and shepherds 
moved as one, yet with an infinite diversity ; the herdsmen whistling through 
their fingers, calling, gesticulating, pelting the wandering goats with stones, 
and whipping up the lagging ; the dogs running to and fro, and the sheep 
keeping humbly to the road, while the goats, with their silken hair swaying, 

moved with an independence and character that were almost human. Some 

111 



112 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

knelt by the water's edge to drink, others rose upon their legs to reach 

the mulberry-shoots, and even climbed twenty feet up into the trees. They 

nibbled at the wild briars and the shrubs, investigated all that lay upon 

their path with an insatiate curiosity, rushed at the blackened stones of 

cooking places and licked them with avidity ; and withal moved in the 

distance like a wave dappled with light and shade, at a pace that rapidly 

consumed the miles. The sires of the flock, with their great curved noses 

and tasselled hair, bore a striking resemblance to the patriarchs of the tribe ; 

and in the milch goats, with their slender forms and swaying fluttering 

motion, there was an affinity that was irresistible, with the Bakarwal 

women. It was a singular community that was thus upon its travels ; 

and it was thus that Abraham marched when he came with his flocks out 

of Ur in the Chaldees. 

Beside these wanderers, here one hour and gone the next, were the 

people of the soil, ploughing and planting their rice-fields with the infinite 

patience and hope of the long-settled peasant. A little way off sat a group 

of travellers from the fastnesses of Dras and Baltistan, mongoloid of feature, 

shy and unobtrusive, as strangers in a strange land. Through all these 

diverse peoples ran the unifying bond of the white high road, the electric 

wire, the steel Suspension bridge of the British engineers ; and thus were 

the centuries commingled ; the nomad pursuing his immemorial mode 

of life, unmoved by the stability of his neighbours. But the wild rose was 

here before the first footfall of man was heard; and she seemed to me, 

as I rode, the most perfect thing in the valley. 

* * 
* 

My noon-day halt is called by a way-side spring, over which a Calender, 
I am told, built his home some fiftj- years since, and ministered to the 
spiritual needs of the traveller. But the Saint has joined his forefathers, and 
the roof of his house has long since fallen in. Yet the spring lives on, and 
those who are afoot stay here to partake of its bounty, and of the shade 
of the walnut trees it waters. A little brook flows away from it, and beside 
it there shimmers a nursery of young rice, of a green that is more vivid than 
any other in Nature. 




,*;'., 



FIRST MARCH 113 

As I repose here the wind ruffling its surface fills it with indescribable 
joys, dragon-flies glitter and flit across it with startling speed, a pair of doves 
descend in its midst, and a Hoopoe trails his pied wings over its brilliant 
surface. The little brook in its meanderings divides me from a party of 
Baltis who like myself have come here to pass the noon and eat a way- 
side meal. I see them come slowly up the dappled road and make for 
this spot, and in a twinkling the yaks and ponies are at grass, the pack- 
saddles unloaded, the travellers at ease ; one lighting a fire, another filling 
a pot with water from the spring, while the rest of the company spread 
their limbs with undisguised relief. Presently they eat and talk and slumber 
under the walnut shade, while the brook runs on, and the scene with all 
its humble charm, is such as this valley must have known for a thousand 
years. All about us are the blue and ever-green mountains, some deeply- 
wooded and others spangled with snow ; the willows by the water silver 
in the wind, and the air is laden with the murmur of the Sind, as it foams 
and rushes in the distance on its way. 

I confess that when I left the silken ease of the valley and the comfort 
of my boat it was not without a touch of reluctance, and for a mile or 
two as I came along the stony road I regretted all that I had left ; but 
now, as I sit here and pass the noon till it is time to move again, the old 
joy of wayfaring steals upon me, and I am glad to be of a world in which 
men march and halt, and take their rest by the wayside, till it is time to 
march again. 



The Wanderer 

" Round us everywhere the leaves fall 
You can hear the winds gaily call 
For them to fly — 

And the birds are lured from the nest. 
Wanderer, for you there will be rest, 
To-morrow you will die." 

Abd-Rebbehi. 



I 



CHAPTER V 

KANGAN 

I MOVED on in the afternoon to Kangan, crossing a bridge over the foaming 
Kankanai which comes straight down here from the heights of Haramukh 
veined with silver and noble of outline, far above this lateral valley. The 
breeze as I stood here in the hot sunlight was cold and fresh from its passage 
over the snow-fed stream. 

At Kangan my tents were pitched in a walnut grove, beside a village 
embosomed amidst fine trees, and vivid with the rice nurseries, in which 
the women, and here and there an old patriarch, were at work. The sky 
was misty, and the beauty of the mountains was dimmed, till at sunset 
the light came with a sudden gleam upon the peaks of the valley, and they 
shone like silver before the night overtook them. 

I rose at five to find a man, sick unto death, lying prostrate in the 
shelter of the serai near my tent. He had been there, my near neighbour, 
all night, and I had not known it. He lay almost naked, moaning, and 
unconscious of the world, but still at issue with Death. His eyes were closed. 
His uncovered state, his abject condition ; these were nothing to him. 
Yet his vital forces still struggled with the terrible shadow that encompassed 
him. His tense fingers, his deep breathing at long intervals, told of the 
awful conflict. 

But one could see that Death must win. His son, a Balti lad of sixteen, 
stood beside him, afflicted with grief, but mute. Now and then only he shook 
his head, or leaned forward to cover the dying man's face. Eight days, 
he said, his father had lain here ; he would eat no bread, and there was 
nothing he could do for him. He was poor ; he had no money. . . . 

I could see that the people of this wayfaring place : the sergeant, 

116 



ii6 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

the shop-keeper, the post-man, paid no heed. They were evidently callous ; 
a traveller, a Balti, what was he to them ? His hour had come. He must 
die. Others of his race were encamped under a walnut tree a little way 
off, their fires lighted, busy about their food. The dying man was placed 
under the charity of an official roof at the mercy of the world. The village 
next door was indifferent. If men travel they must be willing to die away 
from home. Such is the sentiment of those who stay with their own. Even 
in England, where they would have carried him to hospital and tried to 
save his life, the feeling would have been the same. There would have been 
some pity, but little understanding of the stranger from foreign parts 
who had come away from his own home. Yet in truth does it matter 
where a man dies ? This man, fighting his last fight, was concerned with 
nothing but its issue ; unconscious of those who looked upon his agony. 

Upon the road the sun was shining, and day was abroad. Lofty pin- 
nacles of snow rose into the summer haze, and woods of dark cedar climbed 
the higher slopes. Lower down in the valley there were walnut trees, 
with waters sparkling and running over at their feet. The world took its 
way. Here was a shepherd carrying a young lamb, its legs in his hands, 
its body about his neck, as in the Bible pictures. Upon the road a trader 
from Ladakh was returning home with his veiled wife ; a man of substance 
with a following of pack animals, and ponies for himself and the lady of 
his choice to ride upon, harnessed with brave trappings and scarlet saddle 
cloths that took the eye. The lady, hidden within the white flowing folds 
of her Burqua, was an object of mystery and potential beauty. She might 
have been a prize from the shores of Bayukdere or the Golden Horn. But 
Mahamdoo, the man who carries my baggage and beguiles the way with 
his knowledge (for he is a great traveller and feels like choking, he says, 
after he has been confined at home for a month) relates her history. 

" Behind that veil. Sir ! there is naught but the face of a Ladakhi 
girl, a round face with small eyes. I know, because I saw her coming down 
the valley with Yaqub, when he descended with his felts to Srinagar. She 
was then unveiled, and a person of no importance, like the rest of her people. 
But at Srinagar she learnt about Burquas ; and behold ! she returns to 
Leh a veiled personage " — 



A BKAUTY OP THE VALLEY 



KANGAN 117 

He spoke as one who scorns a recent patent of nobility ; but the lady 
shut up within her cage was doubtless filled with aristocratic emotion. 

By the way-side I met another group of the wandering herdsmen, 
and I could not fail to be impressed with the handsome air of the men, the 
erect and flowing shapes of the women, and the gypsy beauty in their eyes. 
One of these was perhaps the prettiest woman I saw in Kashmir. As I 
approached the encampment I could see her running towards me down 
the road, but unaware of my approach. And there she sat with tears 
about her lashes, a picture of beauty in distress, while the older and plainer 
women of the tribe gathered about her and scoffed at her misfortunes. 
What was her story ? Was she rebellious about the husband selected for 
her ? or was she too proud, for their taste, of her manifest and excelling 
beauty ? I could not enquire, yet was I curious to know. 

The men of the tribe told me they came to the foot hills of Jammu 
some forty years ago, from the North- West, and they reckoned themselves 
of kin with the Pathan of whose language they spoke a dialect. They 
migrate here each summer to escape the heat and fever of the low country, 
and find pasturage for their flocks. The lands they hold they leave to 
others to cultivate for them for a share of the harvest. They are a sort 
of wandering aristocracy in their way, with their ancestral herds and fine 
patriarchal air. 



" The region which Kailasa Hghts up with his dazzling snow, and which the 
tossing Ganga clothes with a soft garment." 



Kalhana. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE BEAUTY OF THE SIND VALLEY 

The next day the Sind Valley realised expectations. I had been told much 
of its beauty ; but this beauty is of a minor order till one nears the high 
gorges that usher in the charms of Sonamarg. 

I rose while the Moon still shone in the west, and the snows beneath 
her were bright under her gleam. I saw her pale, and the earliest rays of 
sunlight glow with a brighter fire upon those snows, and then I saw the 
day break over the valley as I took the road. But there were deep violet 
shadows still under the right bank and the cold was sharp and keen. 

My camping-place for the night had been on a grassy slope that fell 
gently to the river, and a clear mountain stream ran beside my tent, the 
roots of a walnut tree that sheltered it reaching bare and gnarled to its 
rushing waters. The green grass about me was marked with the weals of a 
hundred previous encampments, the scene was one of beauty and life ; 
yet I perceived in the clearer light of day that it was the burying place of 
many generations of men upon which I had encamped ; and in the 
shelter of the lilac-flowered scrub I came even upon a new-made grave. 
It is thus in the East, where life and death go strangely together, 
hand in hand. 

The night had been grey and over-laden ; but in the morning the 
valley seemed re-bom, and as I walked in the shadows a beautiful picture 
lay at my feet, the river curving like a bow under the cliffs, pale green 
and foam white, while beyond it there spread a level vale patterned with 
heavy trees, whose shadows in the early light lay like velvet upon the meadows 
and the fields. Here had nature or man, in their dim out-reachings, fashioned 
something that was near of kin to an English park. Yet above this park 

119 



I20 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

there rose to soaring heights, and snow-starred summits, the dark fir-woods 
and chmbing walls of the valley. 

At Koolan I crossed the river, at a point whence a track leads over 
the mountains, past ice-floed lakes and under the glacial fields of Kolahoi 
to the Lidar Valley. Here the tributary waters came falling in joyous 
beauty, past mills and homesteads, and flocks of sheep that grazed in peace 
upon the edge of the thundering river. 

Near Gaggangir these minor yet exquisite incidents reached a sudden 
climax of might and power, where a cataract of snow, laden with drift and 
scented with the resin of the shattered firs, spread like a lava-flow across the 
Valley. I could trace its beginning high up on the gleaming face of the 
mountain, its swift descent and overwhelming flood as it breasted the river 
and rose to the opposite steep. My path lay across this tumult of frozen 
snow and drift, whose consuming might impressed me, though I could see 
that the hour of its dissolution was already at hand. 

Everywhere from beneath the snow, which a few months before had 
held the valley in fee, streams of water were bursting through, great 
caves in the sheeted ice were dripping under the stress of sunlight, and mid- 
way, the river, fiercely triumphant, was rolling with an irresistible momentum, 
between the walls of ice and ice-like snow, through which it had cloven 
its path. From these walls, cut as with the stroke of a sword, there pro- 
jected the trunks of trees and withered boughs and fragments of stone, 
while their face was a dappled sea-green, and brown, and marked like the 
skin of a leopard. I knew as I stood there with the roar of the river in my 
ears, its green waves dashing and foaming at my feet, that I stood in the 
presence of passion and life. 

We think of Nature, with our customary arrogance, as of something 
inanimate, yet here was she surprised in the very transports of emotion. 
I felt like one who looks upon the closing scene of a great battle, upon the 
shattered remnants of the defeated army in flight, upon the exultant pursuit 
of the victor. And such it was. For with the passing of Summer the 
Snow had eome and had conquered the valley, burying the green wood- 
lands, shattering the great trees, engulfing the very river itself. But now 
with Spring and the returning Sun its power was broken, and the Spirit 



THE BEAUTY OF THE SIND VALLEY 121 

of Life with her conquering banners and music of rushing waters was once 
more abroad. The Cuckoo knew it, for she was calhng from the deep thickets, 
and the sheep knew it as they came by in their thousands, bleating, fiUing 
the air with their cries of rejoicing, the rams and the young lambs and the 
uddered ewes, on their way to the upland pastures. Here they swarmed 
over the drift-wood and the brown ice, and with them there came the shep- 
herds and their women and their young daughters, and as the herd moved 
their children ran laughing amongst them, seizing the ewes, while with 
swift skilful fingers they drew the milk into their wooden bowls. 

At Minimoy the scenery of the valley began to absorb all my attention, 
for at each step it seemed to increase in sublimity and variety of beauty. 
On the left bank the mountains rose up like the very pinnacles of Heaven 
to a dark blue sky, across whose void, gigantic clouds, white and luminous 
in the sunlight, sailed upon their aerial course. The peaks shone like sword 
blades, and were uplifted with a majesty of architecture that dazzled the 
imagination, so far did they surpass any human conception. From their 
high altitudes the snow drifts fell with, an almost perpendicular descent 
many thousands of feet to the brink of the green foaming river. My path 
lay upon the right bank, facing these wonders, and as we crossed the face of 
a snow-slide one of my ponies slipped and wavered, and my tent was carried 
upon the instant like an avalanche into the furious river.^ 

My next impression was of a gorge opening out into an amphitheatre, 
where soft meadows lay grey and green like the necks of wood-pigeons, 
and flowers bloomed, and glaciers came falling in cataracts from a snowy 
world upon a valley that smiled in serene security at their feet. This was 
Sonamarg. 

* " It was at this point which Mirza Haidar calls the * narrow defile of L^,' that the Kashmir 
chiefs vainly attempted to stop the brave Turks of the invader's advance guard ; and Kalhana's 
Chronicle shows that this defile had witnessed fighting already at an earlier period." — Raja- 
Tarangini. 



CHAPTER VII 

SONAMARG 

My tent having vanished into the roaring Sind, I sought the shelter of the Cara- 
van Serai, and was thus in the midst of a varied company of traveUing men 
and beasts. It was not a Swiss hotel, and dirt was plentiful. Yet I reflected 
that I was better off than in Andorra ; and the weather being uncertain, 
I had the luxury of a floor and a roof over head. As the rain came down, 
strange visitors drifted in through the Serai gate, furtively, as if seeking 
shelter, yet doubtful whether it would be safe to enter : men from Dras 
and Ladakh, in long grey woollen coats and felt boots, with seamed and 
weather-wrinkled faces ; pack-ponies and flocks of long-haired goats. 
One by one they all defiled into this democratic shelter. The goats sniffed 
and wandered into the inner rooms, whence they were evicted with loud 
cries and the beating of sticks ; the men made fires upon the earthen floors, 
striking their lights from flint and steel, the evening meal was cooked, and 
long pipes were filled and passed from hand to hand. At one end of this 
primitive place there, was a room reserved for travellers of a somewhat 
better class, a rough and uninviting chamber ; yet so soon does one get 
used to one's surroundings and make them a part of one's self, that when I 
woke in the morning to find the sun shining in, my bed looking warm and 
comfortable, and my possessions spread about me, I felt as if the place 
were my own, and I was almost reluctant to leave it. I had slept well ; 
I had been warmer than in a tent, and I repaid its hospitality by passing a 
delicious hour in it, long after the sun had risen and the world was afoot. 
About nine I went forth into the splendour of the morning, to find 
cattle pasturing by a stream that was starred with ranunculi, deep wood- 
lands, and grey Alpine summits glittering with snow under a sunlit sky. 

123 



124 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

It was the first of June. 

Here also were horses whisking their tails, and sheep taking cover 
from the pouring sun ; and peasants ploughing up the rich dark soil, calling 
to their cattle in loud admonishing tones. 

Picture the black cattle straining at the yoke, their muscles a-quiver 
in the light, the ploughman pressing them forward, the green meadows, 
the mighty mountains, the dark blue sky with navies of white clouds full sail 
across it, the vivid sunlight. Listen to the cuckoo calling from the 
woods, the sudden song of the skylark, the bleating of lambs, the lowing 
of the milch cattle on the pasture lands, the music of the river on its way 
to sea. Add to these a strip of white road like a child's ribbon, a road of 
immemorial days along which life has moved for unnumbered centuries, 
from India into Central Asia, from Central Asia back to India ; upon it 
men and cattle and horses — and you have the scene before you. 

Happily for me I was not content even with these sights, but passed 
on till I turned the shoulder of the dark wooded hills which define the left 
bank of the Sind, and so came with a startling transition into the presence 
of the mighty peaks and rolling glaciers which are the wonder of Thajwaz. 
I had already observed their loftiest pinnacles and sharply descending 
streams of snow on my way up the valley the previous day ; but I was 
now to find myself unexpectedly in their midst. For it is here at Thajwaz 
that a tributary water of the Sind enters the greater river, and it is fed by 
the glaciers that pour their frozen masses down the eastern face of these 
mountains. I followed the little river up its lustrous valley, and in its 
short course of a mile or two found it environed by a beauty that is, I 
suppose, unsurpassed in the world. Here in the midst of dark sentinel 
firs, and silver birches clothed in the infantile green of spring, the stream 
bursts from its snowy matrix, and falls in green cascades over rocks and 
fallen trees. One sees it thus at the moment of its birth. 

It is a wild valley, the haunt of Nature unadorned : yet, whether by 
design or chance, its waters where they fall smoothly over the prostrate 
trees, are the image of those at the Shalimar. 

Higher up the brief valley, the clustering birch trees make a pattern 
against the snow, and beyond them the steep walls that shut it off from 




THE GLACIERS Or THAJWAZ. 



i 



4 



SONAMARG 125 

the outer world rise in great masses and stainless fields of snow. Here 
upon either side of the river are sharply contrasted the northern and southern 
slopes of the mountains ; the one ice-bound, glittering in all the panoplies 
of winter; the other green with dark fir-trees, and grassy meads, and 
enamelled with spring flowers that blow upon the very edge of the ice. 
The sky is of the deepest blue, and the whole valley is filled with light ; 
brilliant, shining, wonderful light. In this medium the great cliff summits, 
grey and silver, rise like the fabrics of a dream ; and far upon their lofty 
pinnacles, upheld in the empyrean like an oblation to the gods, are folds of 
the whitest softest snow. One wonders how so far up, under the very eye 
of the Sun, they retain their frail existence. 

Between these summits lie the glaciers, frozen and motionless, yet 
like things, alive ; for they present the very image of action in their mighty 
descending folds and curves and involute masses. 

Perhaps one of the loveliest things in this valley of loveliness is a pool 
of crystal water, in whose gem-like depths every pebble is depicted. It 
lives its own life fed by secret springs from the mountains, hard by the 
foaming rushing river ; tranquil as sleep, untouched by any influence other 
than the passing breeze. Here I am under the impression the Goddesses 
of the valley bathe before the sun is risen, in the incomparable stillness 
of the dawn. 

At Thajwaz I passed the day ; while the eagles soared over the valley, 
sweeping across it with majestic wing ; while the waters murmured on 
their way, and curious pine-martins came loping over the stones, their 
black and yellow velvet rich against the silver landscape ; while the 
flowers bloomed by the snow's edge, and herds of black buffaloes looked out 
at me from under the fringe of the shadowy woods, and the cuckoo's music 
announced that summer was coming in. Hard by me under the dark shelter 
of a stone a great moth, in the robe of an Emperor, was laying her golden 
eggs, fulfilling her debt to life. 

But for these creatures I was alone ; the only occupant of the 
valley. 

These deep solitudes, these hanging woods, with the wind whispering 
through them like the hidden voice of the world ; these superb mountains 



126 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

raised up against the portals of Heaven ; how different they were to the lovely 
sensuous valley I had left behind me, its silken waters and gardens of 
amours, and its people moving to and fro in boats. There, was life, humanity, 
ease ; here, was Nature, beautiful and dangerous. What wonder that my 
man when he came up to join me, fell in his humble way into a fear of the 
place ? These glacial peaks and foaming waters which to me appeared so 
wonderful, to him were horrible ugly. He would be glad he said to see the 
last of them, and be back safe in his own home. 

As if to add to his terrors, and confirm the horrific character in which 
he regarded this lovely valley, a storm blew up over the mountains ; the 
grey peaks and glaciers were veiled in lowering mists, a roar of thunder 
bellowed through the gorges, and rain fell. 

But in due course the sun stole out again with a welcome glow, and I 
took my way back to the shelter of the Serai and the hamlet of Sonamarg. 
My path lay through the deep woods which fringe the meadows, and I 
walked upon the soft surface of last year's dead maple leaves, upon a carpet 
of a million violets, across rivulets that raced and scattered and mingled 
with the joy of their release from the grip of winter, while their edges were 
embroidered with creamy ranunculi. As I emerged from the woods the 
scene before me was bathed in the mild effulgence of evening, and I sat 
for a while in the glow and warmth of the fading sunlight to enjoy it. 

It was the close of day, and all Nature seemed conscious of the wondrous 
event. The plough cattle released from their toil were slowly drifting 
homewards, the blue smoke was rising from the fires of a nomad camp, 
the murmuring river was lit here and there with shafts of light, and the 
dove-grey masses of Nilnai were luminous, with deep shadows to add to 
its great beauty. Far above me in a world of their own the swallows were 
flying against the grey sky, and the last message of the setting sun was 
borne from cliff to cliff, from velvet green slopes to grey Sierras, to the 
ultimate white encampments of the snows, unblemished in their loveliness 
and far above the world. 

Opposite me a little mountain-river came foaming down to join the 
Sind, and at their junction lay the hamlet of Sonamarg, a cluster of frail 
wooden huts. High above it a waterfall was visible, but unheard. From 



SONAMARG 127 

the upland meadows the sheep of the hamlet were slowly descending to their 
pens, and one by one I could see them, as they passed in at the narrow ways 
under the shepherd's eye. Here and there a light shone through the low- 
browed doors of the houses, in whose rooms, half underground, the simple 
folk with their wives and dark-eyed children live closely packed for nearly 
half the year, while the world is white and snow-shrouded about them. 

And Night had already fallen and the stars were shining in the dusk, 
when down the road came the mail-runners from Ladakh, hastening on by 
the rushing Sind towards the dark and- difficult defile which constrains 
its waters to Gaggangir. These men, and the soft humming of the wires 
in the night's stillness, spoke to me of a far-flung Empire, and of the links 
that bind this secluded hamlet to the majestic world. 



" Allah is One Alone ! 
Look on the Universe and find the proof; 
Within the House of Life are many rooms, 
Above them all the one o'er-sheltering Roof." 

Diwan of Inayat Khan. 



i 



CHAPTER VIII 

BALTAL 

I LEFT Sonamarg as the sun was rising, and rode along and up the valley 
in the early light, rejoicing with the river in the freedom and beauty of the 
morning. In a deep shadow-laden gorge on the right bank I found a recent 
settlement of Baltis, and in the humble fields, one, a tired-looking old man, 
was at work piling up stones to make a wall. His labour was the labour of 
one beaten in the conflict of life, and was childish and ephemeral in its 
character. These are people who have been broken on the wheel, and in 
their gait and bearing they suggest centuries of inferiority to stronger men, 
and subjection to an inclement Nature. 

It were hard to find a more striking contrast than that between the 
squalor of this hamlet and the beauty of its site. Its inhabitants have been 
here now for seven years, having left their homes in the bleak uplands of 
Baltistan for want of land, and they have in that time raised up a number 
of children and a mass of filth. They have also built some primitive houses 
of stone and wood, and are slowly tilling the fields, which owing to the long 
winter, yield but one uncertain crop of millet in the year. But the deep 
woods, the stream falling in cascades through the sheltered valley, the dove- 
grey beauty of Nilnai, whose organ-like pinnacles and white gleaming spaces 
rise above the hamlet up to Heaven, would make the fortunes of a host of 
people in another land. 

While I was still occupied with the old man building his feeble wall, 
there passed me on the road a person of quite another mould. A white 
beard flowed upon his breast to his girdle, and a green turban rose above 
his clear-cut features. He had the grand air of a person of spiritual as 
well as of material consequence ; and he might have stepped out here from 

B 129 



I30 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

amidst the pillars of Solomon's temple, with the Urim and Thummim on his 
breast. 

"A Haji from Mecca," whispered Mahamdoo, "and returning to his 
home in Yarkand." 

He gave me a brief nod of salutation, as from one who is busy about 
his own affairs, and as he passed a lark in a cage twittered before him for 
his consolation. Behind him there followed humbly three ponies laden 
with varieties, the fruits of his wonderful pilgrimage ; amongst them an 
illuminated copy of the Koran. 

Here, indeed, I reflected, was prosperity, the rounded fulness of a life. 
For what can be more fitting when your worldly affairs have prospered, 
than to go when you are old but yet vigorovis, across the buzzing world 
to the shrine of the prophet of Heaven ; there to pray, — where one prayer 
avails as much as an hundred thousand in your own home, — and so to return, 
assured of Paradise hereafter and of the respect of your friends in the 
evening of your life. We have nothing to equal it ; for though we can 
raise a man to the Peerage, and cover his breast with stars, we know not 
how to furnish him with a title in the world to come. 

The valley-road lay smooth before me, devoid of stirring incident. 
Yet as I went, the river hastening by snowy shores, the flocks of sheep 
upon the velvet hills, the flowers by the way-side, made soothing company. 
Fresh snow lay upon the nearer summits, brown and silver ; while at 
intervals, the turning of the road or the lifting of a cloud yielded an 
entrancing view of some Dolomite peak or sword-like pinnacle of ice. For a 
few moments also in the early mist of the morning I saw that rare 
phenomenon, the sun in the centre of a great circle, with images of himself 
at each pole. As I approached Baltal the mountains stood up in a great 
encompassing circle, and the valley came visibly to an end at the foot of the 
Zogi-la. 

Here in this- great company a sky-lark rose from the earth, and 
carried her song into the sun-mist, and taught me the unity of life. For 
she moved and felt and sang in this lone valley where the snow lies heavy 
for half the year, and man has scarcely left an impress, even as she might 
have done over •an English acre. And when I spoke to the old caretaker 




THE HAJI, 



BALTAL t3i 

of the house at Baltal, who shares with her the soHtude of the valley, I 
learnt that he was one whose words and mind exactly fitted my own, so 
that in the spaee of half an hour I learnt all he had to tell me of his lone 
winters here, and of the solitude that overtakes him, so that he has to resort 
for human fellowship to the post-runners as they hasten on their way over 
the Zogi-la. He is content to live here alone for a payment of six shillings 
a month, and for what he can get as he says from " the English sahibs and 
the Missies and the Mems " who come in summer to look at this far corner 
of the world. 

He had much to tell me also of the game in the neighbourhood, and of the 
care to be taken in travelling over snow with a river swirling into life below. 
The Maple woods by the house were thronged with a herd of buffaloes that 
had arrived over night, the first herd of the year ; and the previous day he 
said the first Bakarwal had crossed the Dachinpara with a flock of five 
hundred goats. " For lo ! " he said, " the days of snow are passing and 
the Sun is once more King." 



" He went up and up into the mountain till he caine to the mouth of a 
lonely cave at the foot of a mighty cliff. Above the cliff the snow-wreaths 
hung, dripping and cracking in the sun ; but at its foot around the cave's 
mouth grew all fair flowers and herbs, as if in a garden, ranged in order. 
Then Aeson whispered. Fear not, but go in, and whomsoever you shall find 
lay your hands upon his knees and say, ' In the name of Zeus, the father of 
Gods and men, I am your guest from this day forth.' " 

The Argonauts. 



CHAPTER rx 
AMAR NATH 



A.«« N-.„H is the most s^red place i„ Kashmir, the abode of the God Shiva 

who Uves here meamate in an ieicle. and it is visited by piWims from the 

■uthe^ sho^ of India. What Meeca is to the Model H^ W k1^ 

IS m Its wav to the ffood HinHn i?«, ^ *u , j . *" x^^ulu 

. u LUC gooa Hindu. For months each year it is bunVH 

to the ascendn^ pUgnn,s, who come to it in a great multitude, ledl 

Zt^^rfl"^ '^"" ''"">• * "^ ""^ -J--*^. kappy ii 
the fulflhnent of theu- purpose. 

" Its scenerj," wrote one, an EngUshman who visited it, "is wild 
grand and more imposing than anything I have seen in Kashmir. I shall' 
never orget ,t. One felt the,, in the presence of the Maker of the Unive^; 

The approach to it Ues, in summer, up the Lidar vaUey ; but in winter 
and spnng. while the sacred waters of the Amravati Ue bur,>d ^dcTm^ L 
of snow, one may ascend to it with an effort from Baltal. The early davs 

tz,": V" "" "'^'"- "- "■' -"*- - aireadrbi^r 

.UH! through, and once they have done so this narrow g„„e becomes 
^passable. , could not tell whether I should find it open, t'wheTl 1" 
out on my journey no human fooutep had passed before me for a year 

I started eariy. for there were some twenty miles to accomplish before 

butTd " "f^" " "^^ "'°"^'' '"'■ ^' ■^'■' '««"-' -r 

bume dawn was fiawless. and the waning m«,n rode high in the blue la„ 
Of sky above us as we left Baltal. 

There was light to travel by. and the birds in the vaUey had begun to 

me, I caught the fir^ gleams of stmlight on the loftiest pe^. 



i34 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

It is a commonplace perhaps, this swing of the world that carries one 
fraction of it from darkness into light at the dawn of a new day ; yet to 
one who travels and is thrown upon his thoughts and reflections it comes 
each time with something of a sense of wonder, as of a miracle that is wrought 
for the first time. The majestic words of Lucretius insensibly revert 
to one's mind — 

" Principio caeli clarum punimque colorem, 
quaeque in sc cohibit, palantia sidera passim, 
lunamque et solis pracclara luce nitorcm ; 
omnia quae nunc si primum mortalibus csscnt, 
ex improvise si nunc obiecta repente, 
quid magis his rebus poterat mirabile dici ? " 

How beautiful, silent, and pervasive is the advance of light at this 
exquisite hour, and how one's body responds to it with the instinctive 
memory of ages quite as much as one's tutored mind ! 

We took our way for a mile or so, through birch woods and meadows 
wet with dew, to where the Amravati, along whose frozen course we were 
to travel to Amar Nath, runs into the Dachinpara river. All up to this was 
gladsome and joyous, with the music of birds and the coming of sunlight 
on snowy heights ; but the gorge of the Amravati met us, sombre and dark 
and silent, its snow soiled with the blackness of the long winter and the 
shattered drift. 

Up this dark side-valley we took our way in silence, overwhelmed by 
the sombre horror and deathly stillness that lay upon it. No ray of 
sunlight had yet reached it ; no voice of bird or creature was heard. We 
had passed as it were into the corridor of an infernal world. Slowly we 
climbed over the sullied snow, unconscious of the life that moved beneath 
it ; slowly we plodded over the dark hummocks, the shattered trunks of 
dead trees. Here a man slipped, there a man paused with labouring breath. 
It was a sullen and hard beginning to a memorable day. 

At last the voice of a cuckoo broke with a sudden music upon this 
strange valley in which nothing had life, and its advent seemed to change 
the scene as if by magic. I turned to look about me, and there beyond 
the dark canyon up which we had come, shone the marvellous lustre of 
day breaking upon the distant cliffs wc had left behind us. The sight must 




AMAR NATH 135 

have gladdened any one, so bright was it with hope, so briUiant by contrast 
with the dark shadows in which we were engulfed. The cuckoo bore us 
company far up on our way, until the ascending path took us up into 
regions where even its music was stilled. 

But now the stir and murmur of the river were about us. Here and there 
it had burst through the superincumbent masses of snow with an incredible 
ilan, and the roar of its passage filled the valley so that we could scarcely 
hear each other speak. And then again the river was imprisoned, and its 
music was stilled, and there was a deadly silence, and we marched step by 
step up the hills of frozen snow ; until in the distance a faint murmur arose, 
like the vague murmur of a distant city, and grew and grew like the sound 
of an army approaching, until once more we stood upon the brink of the 
foaming waters, and saw the river raging with a frenzy of action under 
the dead counterpoise and heavy burden of snow. 

Our journey was in the main one of toilsome ascent and descent over 
billows of frozen snow, and therefore called for little more than endur- 
ance ; but there were occasional passages fraught with some little risk to 
a party like ours, unequipped for mountaineering, and these lent an added 
zest to our travels. For where the river had burst a gap in its snow 
incubus, there our path narrowed from the whole width of the valley 
to bare foothold. The very circumstance that had forced an opening 
in the snow made for a dangerous passage, for it was at these points that 
streams or avalanches of snow coming into lateral contact with the river 
had caused a violent impact, under stress of which the snow cover had 
given way. 

There were two or three such places of which I retain a recollection. 
At one, the first we encountered, a snow-slide ending abruptly in a wall 
of ice, under which the river plunged, made progress on the left bank im- 
possible. On the right an avalanche of loose shale had torn away the whole 
face of a mountain to a height of five hundred feet. Far above us we 
could see the lowest trees hanging by their roots upon the verge of dis- 
solution ; and along the whole surface of the shale, a tumult of rocks and 
stones retained its foothold as it were by a miracle. But these also were 
doomed to continue their journey to the river, and indeed we had barely 



136 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

passed along this treacherous surface when a mass of rock rushed down 
the slope and closed the narrow path behind us. 

At another the sharp descent oi the right bank made any attempt along 
it impossible ; but on the left a snow-slide offered a precipitous passage. 
Here there was no path, for no one had gone before us. Twenty feet below 
our footsteps the river plunged in an access of fury, flinging its spray up into 
our faces and its mist into the air with a deafening roar. 

At one point also where there was neither sound nor murmur of moving 
water, the dead mass of snow under our feet was riven across the valley, and 
through this narrow and deep crevasse we could faintly discern the green 
glint of the silent water sweeping along its course. It lay there, beneath 
a thousand tons of snow ; and at places this intolerable burden was piled 
up above it to a height of a hundred and twenty feet. It was here that 
we moved with the utmost confidence, for the floor beneath us would have 
sustained an army. 

Of life we saw little ; but as the day advanced, birds sang, and upon 
the snow there were inscribed the recent hoof-prints of the ibex, the musk- 
deer, and the barasingh, the great stag of Kashmir. Once we heard the 
shrill cry of the marmot, and saw these curious little creatures peering at us 
and darting into their holes. Once, also, I saw a bird — a little black bird with 
a snowy head — tripping happily across the foaming water, heedless of its 
wrath. And every now and then there was carried to our ears, like the 
sound of a mystery, the distant explosion of an avalanche upon its way. 

We had reached within a mile of the Sangam or sacred union of the 
Amravati and the Panjtarni, when our eyes were gladdened with a view 
of almost heavenly beauty. At our feet, as we emerged from the darkness 
upon the crest of a great snow billow and looked upon this sudden vision, 
lay a tranquil reach of open water of a turquoise hue, but clear as ice, while 
from its surface rose miniature bergs in strange life-like forms. Sheer walls 
of frozen snow stood up about its banks, of the colour and texture of 
sun-warmed marble, and cut as if with a knife. Below the great snow 
roof upon which we stood the river glided without a sound. 

It was lovely enough, yet the glory and wonder of the scene lay in the 
vision ahead of us of the five-pointed peak of Panjtarni, a dazzling citadel 



AMAR NATH 137 

of snow, faceted like a jewel, and brilliant as a God. Beside it rose another 
double-pointed peak of almost equal grandeur and beauty. I had 
not in my life seen anything more beautiful, or anything which more per- 
fectly depicted in these mountain fastnesses the scenes of an Arctic world. 
It was a symphony of the purest coloiu-s, turquoise by the river, white, 
dazzling, and blue-shadowed as a diamond, where the peaks rose up into 
a heaven of incomparable blue. 

In this scene there was no trace of conflict, nothing that spoke of passion. 
Its character was of that which is flawless in its perfection, of that which 
is eternal and beyond vicissitude. I think that if a man opened his eyes 
from sleep or some long oblivion upon this spectacle, he might well imagine 
himself to have been carried up to heaven, or at the least to have been 
offered a glimpse of Paradise. I conclude that it was this vision, and 
not that curious emblem in the cave at Amar Nath, which first led some 
transcendental Aryan mind to interpret this as the abode of God. 

This for me was the real climax of the journey, but its customary pur- 
pose being to attain the cave itself, I continued on my way. We presently 
arrived at the Sangam, or meeting of the waters. Above their junction, 
in the midst of an amphitheatre of snow-covered mountains, there is a 
grassy knoll enlivened with the most vivid flowers, upon which I reposed, 
and in vain endeavotired to induce my followers to accompany me to Pahl- 
gam ; for before me spread the radiant vision I had first seen in its most 
perfect manifestation some moments earlier, and it beckoned me with a 
fascination I could not resist ; but they would see me no farther on that 
road. They had come, they said, from Sonamarg, they were ill-equipped 
for so arduous an undertaking, and they begged to be excused. So we 
turned up the narrow gorge of the Amravati, and the sun bore down upon 
us with a fierce heat, which made this the hardest part of our journey. 
The increasing altitude also told upon every member of the party. 

The cave was now clearly visible on the right bank of the river, with 
several thousand feet of snowy roof and gleaming pinnacle above it. Oppo- 
site it rose a precipitous wall crowned with snow, and straight before us 
shone with a radiant beauty the snow-fields which marked the culmination 
of the valley. 



i 



138 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

Flowers blossomed at the mouth of the cave, and swallows flew from 
its shadow into the blinding sun. No pigeon flew out upon us, to mark 
as it sometimes does for the pilgrims The Living God; but his emblem 
shone like silver within the recesses of the cave. Its character was unmis- 
takeable and a little curious. To an unbelieving eye it was no more than 
a fountain or jet of water, which owing to the altitude and the cold within 
the cave — for the sun's rays do not reach these innermost recesses — appears 
an icicle. Yet to the Hindu, ever seeking in his worship after the Life- 
force of the Universe, it is the very symbol of the Creator. 

Here to this block of ice, to the recesses of this cave, devout pilgrims, 
from the Princes of the land to the humblest of the lowly, from accomplished 
scholars to those who have no letters, come in their thousands, braving 
all the toils and the dangers of long journeys across the Indian Continent, 
to bestow their garlands and offer up their prayers. Here it may be is but 
an idle superstition, yet the impulse which sends them out of their ordinary 
lives into the midst of these splendours of ice and snow, where the hand of 
a great Architect is visible in the fulness of his power, cannot fail to illumine 
their hearts and lift up their souls. 

At the time of my visit the world here was white with snow and un- 
marked by any human footprint ; but about the mouth of the cave there 
still lay the shoes of the departed pilgrims, and here and there the 
faded petals of their last year's garlands. 

Descending from the cave, we passed once more along the valleys, 
resting our eyes upon all the beauties we had marked upon our upward way ; 
but the sun no longer shone in a clear heaven above us, clouds gathered 
in mighty forms, and this journey that had begun in the moonlight and 
the brightening dawn closed in to all the thunders of the firmament. 
The rain-clouds and the white mists came rushing down the gorge from the 
summits of the peaks, like an army that would punish and destroy. We 
made good our exit, however, before the swirl and the darkness of rain had 
completely enveloped the narrow defile of the Amravati ; and as we reached 
the edge of the Sind and its wider outlook, my eyes were charmed by the 
sight of a great herd of goats that had come through that morning from 
Dachinpara. There were hundreds of them assembled under the birch- 




THE MAHARAJA A3 A PII.GIIIM. 



THOU imiVLAfi airi 



THE WANING LIGHT 



AMAR NATH 139 

trees and upon the grassy slopes, and in the midst of them stood the Bakr- 
wals, with their blankets wrapped about them and their staves in their hands. 
These men are amongst the earliest visitants to the mountains, their flocks 
pass over the high passes when the rivers are yet frozen and the grip of 
winter is scarcely yet relaxed, and these we looked upon were the first comers 
of the year. 

A few minutes later, I was enjoying the delights of warmth and comfort 
in my room within the Rest House while the thunder roared and the rain 
plashed without. There is no greater pleasure in life for the tranquil 
mind. 



CHAPTER X 
THE ZOGI-LA 

The Zogi-la — a pass 11,300 feet above sea-level and twenty miles 
in length — ^is the link between Kashmir and the uplands of Baltistan. The 
traveller to Central Asia regards it but as the beginning of his long and arduous 
way-faring, but he who is returning, as the lintel of an earthly Paradise. 
It soars high above Baltal, and one climbs to it as to a fifth-floor window 
to see what there is of the world beyond. The modern road climbs con- 
tinuously to the summit of the pass, and it repays one's labours by the 
striking contrasts it offers by its daring and by the beauty of its outlook. 
As one ascends, the view looking back, develops, till with a rise of a few 
hundred feet there are disclosed all the features of Baltal and the meeting 
of the waters under its promontory. One can see the Sind making its way 
through green meadows and under the mighty hills to its exquisite passage 
at Sonamarg, and one can see its union with the little river that has come 
to meet it from the Zogi-la. This the people call the Bhot-Sind. 

But when one has climbed a thousand feet one's eyes rest with delight 
upon the Upper vale towards Dachinpara, which is almost at right angles 
to the course it has followed as far as Baltal. Here is a scene that owes 
nothing to man. No road enters it, and there is no habitation within its 
compass. Yet it might be a little Italian Valley, so ordered and perfect 
is its beauty, so soft and peaceful is its character, here at the foot of the snow- 
laden mountains. Through it winds the blue-green river, and upon its 
southern edge, where the sharp cliffs and mighty walls of the mountains 
give way to easy meadows — ^the very site for an Alpine hamlet — there 
are dark erect Fir trees, as slim and brooding as Cypresses ; some alone, as 
though their shadows were meant to fall upon the sward of a country villa, 

141 



142 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

others in clusters and groups with interspaces of green lawn. There are 
masses too of heavy-foliaged maples and silver-barked Birch trees. The 
prevailing colour of the valley is dark blue and green, with its turquoise 
ribbon of river running through it ; and light and shadow, as the white- 
puffed clouds move across its vaults of sea-blue sky, lend it — what otherwise 
it might seem to lack — the sentiment of life. Far above these beauties of 
colour, one's eyes travel to the dark Sierras and the incomparable whiteness 
of the snow-fields that lie in the glacial valleys of that up-lifted world. 

One sees this picture, it may be, from a vantage-point on the road, 
where a young birch in her silver bark and light green foliage, stands dream- 
ing of her own slim loveliness upon the edge of a profound abyss, down 
which it is not well to look too long. 

And here is the first of the striking contrasts that awaits one on this 
bit of road, some three miles in length, that carries the traveller to the 
summit of the Pass. For, while the Valley smiles in its peaceful beauty, 
the Road marches along the most dangerous precipices. In places it is 
carved out of the solid rock, in others it is built up with walls which overhang 
the deeps, and at some points at this season it does not exist at all. At 
these a great avalanche of snow descends, almost vertically, the entire 
face of the mountain from peak to river. Across this white slide a track 
is cut about ten inches in width, along which the yaks and ponies from Ladakh 
and Baltistan make their way. If you stop when you are half way across 
this exiguous thoroughfare to survey the scene, you perceive that you are 
clinging to a wall of snow some four thousand feet from top to bottom, 
and that should you exceed your narrow foot-hold, you would find 
no resting-place other than the river some thousand feet below you. Such 
a place as this is terrifying to the imagination, but in practice it is safe 
enough, as the long lines of laden yaks and ponies testify. One's foot-hold 
may be narrow, but one stands upon a high-way of the world. 

More impressive than the avalanche is the span of the telegraph wire. 
Far above one, clear against the sky-line on a rocky summit, stands the 
tall mast from which it makes its flight ; and thence in one mighty curve 
it sweeps across the abysmal depths of the valley to some far invisible point 
beyond it. I tried to follow its course, but even had my eyes permitted 




THE ZOai-LA PASS 



THE ZOGI-LA 143 

this, I think that I must have abandoned my purpose, so over-powering 
was the impression it gave me of a headlong fall. The wire seemed a 
thing alive. 

I turned from it with relief to the sweet beauty of the Birch trees beside 
me, and the strange people who frequent this road. One party of them 
consisted of five men in long woollen coats, with seamed and wrinkled faces ; 
of five ponies laden with dried apricots ; a pair of yaks which looked the 
very image of melancholy as they came shambling down the road ; a donkey, 
and a sheep with a Iamb that was travel-stained and weary with its hard 
way-faring. I passed many such parties, some preceded by a yak, whose 
furtive gloomy head came stealing round the corner of rock, like a phantom 
from Hades ; others by a Ladakhi who upon seeing me came to a dead 
stop, threw up his hands, and then hastened to occupy the safest corner 
of the road, while calling in a loud voice to those who were coming after 
him. I sometimes wonder if I made the same impression upon his bleared 
vision, as he made upon me ! 

Presently I reached the climax of the ascent ; the road became more 
level, and I travelled far enough upon it, to look into a snow-laden valley 
across which minute black creatures were moving at a pace that was less 
than funereal, and there was scarcely a tree in sight. So might Dante have 
pictured the transit of the dead to another world. 

Yet how beautiful also was this valley 11,000 feet above the sea, with its 
snow-white encompassing mountains, upon which the sun was shining 
with the brilliance of a June day, while the white clouds sailed with a serene 
grace across the blue sky ! 

I knew, as I stood here, that I was looking upon one of those passages 
that divide one land from another ; one of those highways upon which 
history is made. Through this gut in the mountains I knew that men had 
marched from time immemorial, one a Conqueror, another a Saint, another a 
Traveller who would see the world ; and besides these, the great army of those 
who must live, who would sell that which they have for that which another 
has to offer in exchange. It was here I reflected that some four hundred 
years ago there rode upon a great adventure a near kinsman of the Emperor 
Babar. He had with him an escort of four himdred and fifty cavalry, and 



144 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

his purpose, in which he succeeded, was to win Kashmir for the Mogul 
Empire. It was after him that there came from the opulent south, to 
mingle their names for ever with the fame of Kashmir, the great Akbar, 
the indulgent Jahangir, the magnificent Shah Jahan, the lovely Nur Mahal, 
and all the galaxy of splendid men and women of the most splendid court 

the world has known. 

Here my journey came to an end. Before me lay that which for me 
at least was forbidden. Behind me lay Kashmir and the lovely valley 
I had left but a half-hour since. And at my feet lay the Zogi-la water, 
silent, and buried under masses of soiled and discoloured snow. 



NANGA PARBAT : ACROSS THE VALLEY 



CHAPTER XI 

TOWARDS HARAMUKH 

Returning down the Sind, I left the valley at Kangan for a visit to Hara- 
mukh and the lakes that lie about it, frozen for the greater part of each 
year. Here as at Amar Nath is one of the sacred places of the Hindu world ; 
and up these toilsome ways the pilgrims come, carrying the bones of their 
dead to their last resting-place in the waters of Gungabal. The summit of 
the great mountain is declared to be the favourite abode of Shiva, inviolable 
by human feet. Below it, in the gorge of the Kankanai, is the shrine of 
Bhutesvara, whose classic ruins date back to a time when Christ had not 
yet been proclaimed in the world. 

My first march was a short one from Kangan to a little place that bore 
the name of Panzin. Of late, the luxury of a long morning under the 
flap of my tent, the comfort of a warm bed, had led me into evening marches ; 
but here I returned to the only right hour for the traveller. 

For the world is fresh at this hour, the flowers so happy for the night's 
repose, and the cool dews of the morning. And this is the time to see sights ; 
for all good travellers march at dawn. And then there is the long day of 
enjoyment before one, the leisure of noon and light slumber under the trees, 
the knowledge that for many hours of rest and physical satisfaction, to 
which all yield, there need be no further claim upon one's energy. 

My camp was pitched in a grove of four chinar trees whose resplendent 
boughs yielded a mighty shade. All through the hours and into the 
shadows of evening they sheltered me completely from the sun. The colonies 
of chaffering rooks and hooded crows which frequent these trees, stole in 
and out of the hoUows in their trunks ; and as I lay there at their feet and 
looked up through their green-gold foliage past the silken-grey of their 

T 14S 



146 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

boughs to the tracery of blue sky far above me, I passed for a season from 
all other preoccupations into this other world. 

Yet about me the quiet scenes and normal incidents of the country- 
side might well have engrossed my attention. In and out making deli- 
cious curves amidst the trees was a little stream, whose purpose in life it is 
to water the village acres, and at this season they drink deep of its bounty ; 
for the young rice— green as an emerald— needs all that the stream can give 
it. Wherever the waters meandered there were Pollard Willows, and at 
intervals miniature glades and grassy spaces where the young cattle found 
pasture. There was thus a touch of infancy about this corner. In the 
glade nearest to me, the calves and the little black kids browsed in the care 
of the village children, and at noon I found them all dozing together in a 
group under a Mulberry tree, which had taken up its abode here in the 

company of the willows. 

There were hills and mountains too, some of them veined and splashed 
with snow ; but they seemed afar off in the summer haze and made no 
claim upon my attention. Yet upon one I traced the outlines of a Marg,* 
which might appeal by its seclusion and loveliness to one who had work 
to accompHsh, or merely a desire to be alone. It was uplifted upon the 
summit of a hill that was difficult of access, and I presently learnt from 
Mahamdoo that it was known as Mohan Marg. 

The name is familiar to every one who has read Kailhana's Chronicle 
of the Kings of Kas'mir, in the version of Sir Aurel Stein. For it was here 
upon this upland meadow, over the space of a dozen years, that he accom- 
plished his translation of the Raja-Tarangini with a romantic thoroughness. 
When you think of that strikingly interesting record of events in Kashmir, 
from the days when Asoka hved and Alexander's fame and influence were 
still bright in Northern India, of its tales of those who fought for the posses- 
sion of this jewelled valley, and of those who " full of ambition set out from 
it for the conquest of the world," of the pride of the craftsman that fills it 
as of one conscious, like the old Roman poet, that Immortality is for him 
alone to bestow ; and then turn as I did by the way-side chance of a tra- 

* " The Margs are beautifiU stretches of turf which ringed round with great Forests lie at 
an elevation of from 7000 to 9000 feet above the sea." 



TOWARDS HARAMUKH 147 

veUer passing the sultry noon, to that lonely meadow high up in the hills, 
where a quiet scholar with the same pride in his craft, laboured upon this 
old Sanskrit record and presented it with such perfection of attainment to 
the European world, you cannot help knowing that there is romance in 
such things as well as in Love and Adventure and in the stirring 
things of Life. 

For " We pay reverence," so runs the chronicle " to that naturally 
sublime craft of poets without whose favour even mighty kings are not 
remembered, though the earth, encircled by the oceans, was sheltered under the 
shadow of their arms as in the shade of forest trees. 

" Without thee, O brother composer of true poetry, this world does not even 
in its dreams know of the existence of those Ornaments of the Earth who once 
rested their feet on the temples of elephants, who possessed wealth, and in whose 
palaces maidens dwelt, moons of the day. 

" Without thee the Universe is blind." 

But the man who was content to spend so many summers in the seclu- 
sion of this upland Marg, whence, as he writes, almost the whole of Kashmir 
lay before him " from the ice-capped peaks of the Northern Range to the 
long snowy line of the Pir Pantsal," became something more than a 
scholar, and it may be that the restraint and the outlook helped to carry 
him on to those greater adventures which have since placed him amongst 
the men of action of our time. 

By a singular coincidence, this chance halting-place under the chinars 
of Panzin, brought me also across the foot-prints of another man whose 
name is engraved upon the history of Kashmir. For as the evening grew 
the VUlage Headman came and sat by the brook, and conversed about 
his fields. 

"Sir," he said, "since Laren we have had great peace. He came 
walking along this very road on his way to Wangat, and I stood before him. 
thus, with folded hands, and said : 

'"Huzoor, here is great zulm; yon field is mine, but another from the 
next village, who has friends at court, has stolen it from me ' ; 

" and Laren said, 'What is your name ? '. and I said Sobhana the son 
of Futto. and he put it down in his note book ; and then he said. 



148 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

" • What is the name of your field ? ' 

" and I laughed and said, ' Huzoor, they call my field Bamjoo,' 

" And he put that also in his book, but said no more and took his way ; 
and lo ! in the fullness of days when the Settlement was accomplished, my 
field was given back to me, a-nd Justice was done." 

" And who was Laren ? " I enquired — 

" Laren," he replied, " was the great Sahib who made the Settlement ; 
the friend of all Zemindars. Since his time a deep confidence has settled 
upon our hearts. It was he who said ' O Wise Ones do not part with your 
lands for they will one day become gold.' " 

Some of the other farmers of the neighbourhood had by now quietly 
joined our party. When the Headman had finished his tale, they echoed it 
with evident sincerity. 

"It is true," they said, " Laren was our great benefactor and our 
children's children will remember his name." 

" Sir," they added with the grace of humility, " we know well that we 
have many faults. We perceive that the evil of untruth is in our hearts ; 
and in the past our sins and our shortcomings have brought upon us heavy 
misfortunes ; but we rely upon the clemency of God. What is written is 
written." 

The Kashmiri is much abused as an altogether vile and worthless fellow, 
and he has been treated in the past by his hard task-masters as of less account 
than a dog. But here were gratitude and admission of sin, and that abiding 
faith in the compassion and mercy of God which is written so deeply upon 
the Moslem mind. 

Night fell, balmy and warm after the sharp cold of Baltal, and I sat 
in the open under the sky, speculating upon the careers of these two 
men, who have won fame beyond all other white men in Kashmir, and 
wondering which of them would survive the longer. The written thing 
remains ; yet is the verbal memory of the East a wonderful thing, and the 
name of Lawrence, who gave the unfortunate Kashmiri peasant his rights, 
is written imperishably upon their hearts. 

It was a starry night, and the great Northern Stars shone directly over 
my lamp. Upon the hill-sides gleamed like fire-flies the encampments of 



TOWARDS HARAMUKH 149 

the herdsmen moving to the upland pastures, and even in the darkness of 
night were visible the mountains, darker than the sky, while the far snow- 
touched Dolomites were a pale sapphire scarcely distinguishable from the 
firmament overhead. The cicadas beat their drums across the rice-fields, 
the night wind murmured in the branches of the chinar trees above me 
(" planted by some Wali or Badshah of by-gone days ") — ^the little brook 
more vocal than in the day purled in musical cadences before the door of 
my tent. 



the bones of their dead." sir Aurel Stein. 



CHAPTER XII 

THE TEMPLES OF VANGAT 

For two or three miles beyond Panzin my way lay through the village 
lanes, amidst walnut trees and willows and hazels, with a great forest of 
pine and spruce rising high above it on the mountain slopes. This was no 
high-road, but a little by-way of the people, rough and uneven, a 
natural part of the hill-side. The wild briar and the white jasmine scented 
it, and pink roses, yellow jasmines, and wild honey-suckle, with the lilac 
tints of some common brushwood, lent it colour. Every now and then 
it crossed a brook which came babbling over moss-green boulders the 
very image of unfettered life, while by its side there ran an olive-hued canal, 
secret and silent, the tutored servant of man. 

Presently the path crossed over to the other side of the valley of the 
Kankanai by a rough bridge made by the villagers, and there became part 
of the ancient track that has been followed for upwards of two thousand 
years by the pilgrims of Haramukh. But time has not softened its asperi- 
ties. It is possible indeed that the pilgrim likes an arduous path. The 
sun glared on it, and there were no deep woods to yield it shade. 

So, ever ascending the valley above the white foaming river, we passed 
through Vangat the last Kashmiri hamlet, where the Bakarwals with 
their slim pretty women on horseback were collected about the village 
fountain in the course of their own way-faring. 

Beyond this point there spreads a wilderness of dark woods and moun- 
tains, the haunt of migratory shepherds and herdsmen, and of a few half- 
nomad Gujars whose mighty buffaloes crowd the foot- way, while here and 
there a field of Indian corn planted by them, marks the beginning of their 
recent settlements. Here in the shelter of the pines I found a flock 

151 



152 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

of two thousand sheep in the care of the chaupans or professional shepherds, 
while their anxious owners who had ridden up on ponies from the distant 
vale, with salt for their sheep and rice for the shepherds, hovered about on 
the outskirts. About their new fields the Gujars were assembled with 
staves, ready to inflict punishment upon trespassers from the flock, and 
of these foreign men the Kashmiri Chaupans were visibly afraid. 

In the midst of these patriarchal scenes as of a world that was yet 
barely emerging from its pastoral state, I came as if by a miracle upon the 
classic walls and time-softened harmonies of one of the ancient temples 
of Kashmir. The passing of many centuries and the cruel fanaticism of a 
people who with each change of religion strove to destroy all traces of their 
own storied past, had wrought their will upon the temple and its courts, 
its enclosing walls and secret altars. The Gujars were extending their 
fields into its innermost precincts ; and within the sanctuary I found a group 
of Bakarwals passing the noon-tide, cooking a meal. Tlie domed roof of 
the temple was black and scorched with the flames of many such bivouacs, 
and the Gujars who in their turn hate and fear the Bakarwals, complained 
that they insisted, in violation of the orders of the State, in treating it as 
a way-side sarai. 

Every trace of carving and relief, every outline of a God, had vanished 
from the temple. Its walls were shaken and disjointed, its roof was bare of 
the carved stone that once graced it, and young trees and shrubs were 
sprouting from its interstices. 

Yet how beautiful it still looked with its half Doric grace, and classic 
purity of line, in the midst of all these symptoms of decay ; and how its 
grey-blue stones still dominated as with the intellect of man, the forests and 
the mountains and the valleys ! 

Hard by it in a grove of pines that soughed and whispered in the wind, 
my camp was pitched within sound of the hastening river, and within sight 
of blue-green glades and vistas of fir trees, and mountain tops still splashed 
with snow. 

This temple is the loftiest of the group which in by-gone days made 
their appeal to the reverent pilgrim, seeking amongst these wilds to pene- 
trate the Mystery of God. Below it upon a lower level there spreads a 




SHEEP IN THE ANCIENT TEMPLES. 



THE TEMPLES OF VANGAT 153 

wide extent of buildings now involved in hopeless decay. The roofs of these 
lower temples have fallen in, and of other buildings little but the mighty 
bases of pillars and columns remains. 

One of these suggests an open Forum or pillared Hall. The colossal 
character of the stone-work is evident in the blocks of granite which lie 
scattered about, and at one place there is a water-trough some fifteen feet 
long and half as broad, which is cut from a single stone. The surface of 
the granite on the temple walls where the rain drips and water lodges is 
worn like the soft stone of an Oxford College, and crumbles to the touch. 
Scarcely a trace of ornament survives ; but here and there upon a stone, 
built in by later hands into the court-yard wall, there is the design of the 
sacred goose and scroll, which in almost an exact counterpart I have seen 
upon the walls of Manuha's palace at Pagan three thousand miles from 
Kashmir. 

The precincts of the temple are bright with the pale yellow bloom of 
a species of elder, whose faint perfume pervades the air, while the pink 
wild-rose droops in her beauty over the shattered domes ; destroyer and 
beautifier in one. 

Beside these lower buildings and across the strip of road upon which 
the wandering herdsmen pass with their multitudinous flocks, there is the 
spring of pure water, the Naran-Nag, which first gave this place its being 
Its waters are collected in a wide four-square pool of cut and fashioned 
stone, and they are of that pellucid and exquisite tint which belongs only 
to such pools in the mountain arcana of India. Part of the pool's surplus 
flows down to the grassy valley and so to the white foaming river; part 
emerges soundless from under the massive walls, and flows on beneath the 
altars and foundations of the temples. 

Who can doubt that it was this natural fountain, itself the home of a 
God, which first appealed to the builders of the temples ? The place is 
stamped with antiquity, and breathes the sentiment of classic times. Its 
beauty appeals to all, and the wonders of the massive architecture make a 
profound impression upon the minds of the wandering herdsmen. 

" Were these Men, Sir, or Gods, who built these wonderful monuments ? " 
more than one of them has enquired of me. 



154 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

But we know very well that they were men, for the chronicle of Kailhana, 
less perishable than granite, bears record of their origin, and of the Kings 
and Princes who visited them in their prime. From it we learn that the 
Greeks having been driven from the land by the Emperor Jalauka, Asoka's 
son, erected the first of these stone temples by the sacred pool and the waters 
of the Kankanai. His successors lavished upon the spot their liberality 
and their devotion. Thus the king Lalitaditya, " returning from the con- 
quest of the world," presented it with a fabulous sum as an expiatory offering 
for having left his favoured Kashmir for the lands of the impure barbarians, 
and built here a lofty temple of stone. And here a more terrible event 
occurred by the edge of the sacred pool in the days of Avantivarman the 
King. For when he came to worship at the shrine of Shiva he saw that the 
temple-priests had placed upon the altar of the God, the base offering of a 
wild herb of bitter taste. When he turned, indignant, upon them to ask 
the reason for this offence, they threw themselves on the ground and spoke 

with hands folded. 

" 7n the Lahara distnct, O King, there lives a powerful Damara, Dhanva 
by name, who is attached to your minister Sura, and treated by him like a son. 

" This Damara whose power is unrestrained, has taken away the villages 
that belong to the shrine, and it is thus that we can offer to Bhutesa only this 

oblation." 

The king left in the midst of the ritual as though he had not heard 
what he had heard, but his Minister the crafty Sura was quick to perceive 
the gravity of the matter. Hastening to the temple of Bhairava, which 
still survives half buried in the earth beside the pool, he sent messenger 
after messenger to bring up his favourite Dhanva, and 

" When that fierce Damara came at last before Sura, he made the earth 
shake with the tramp of his host of foot-soldiers, and did not bend his 

back. 

" As soon as he had entered, armed men, at the order of Sura, cut off his 

head while he was yet alive, in front of the image of Bhairava. 

" The wise Sura, who had thus removed the king's displeasure, then went 
out after having the body from which the blood was pouring forth, thrown into 
the tank close by" — 



THE TEMPLES OF VANGAT 155 

The king then rose from his couch and completed his worship. 

Perhaps the most beautiful hour in which to look upon these relics 
of a by-gone day, — amidst which for so many centuries men fought and 
slew each other, now with the keen edge of the sword, now with the subtler 
blade of the tongue ; amidst which they dreamt and meditated and wor- 
shipped, seeking their Unknown God — is at evening when a great peace 
falls upon the valley, and the last rays of sunlight still linger on the distant 
mountains, bathing their green and purple in harmonies of pale gold, and 
lifting their snow-touched summits, like altars up to the threshold of Heaven. 
The place is then wrapped in a sort of benediction, as though the souls of 
all these erring creatures had been finally taken to rest. 



" Whose head in wintry grandeur towers 
And whitens with eternal sleet 
While summer in a vale of flowers 
Is sleeping rosy at his feet." 

Lalla Bookh. 



Jskk]L\ 




CHAPTER XIII 
TRONKHAL BY HARAilUKH 

I LEFT Naran-nag for the long climb to Tronkhal by Haramukh at an early 
hour, scarce after four. The valley of the Kankanai lay wrapped in sleep, 
yet lightsome with the first faint traces of the coming dawn. Road there 
was none, but there was the moimtain-side abrupt and precipitous, up which 
the pilgrims cUmb with the patient ardour and zeal of those in pursuit of 
an ideal. 

It is a hard road ; yet it offers an ever-widening view of the Vangat 
valley, of the ruins which still grace it, and of the high world of shining 
peaks and ice-laden gorges, that expand before the pilgrim as he draws up 
to a level that consorts with their majesty. Here the serrated Dolomites 
look down upon the snowy sources of the valley, here is the Matterhorn- 
like peak of Kolahoi with its glaciers beyond the far valley of the Sind, 
here in mighty array are the snowy peaks and glaciers and sierras which 
people this upland worid. Yet again as he climbs, the view spreads far 
across the vale of Kashmir to the white emblems and standards of the Pir 
Pantsal. And then, a turn of the road, and this passmg vision is concealed 
behind the shoulder of the grass-clad mountain up which it climbs, 
and the view looking down upon the Kankanai and its tributaries is one 
of intense colour, the deepest blues and greens and violets, such as are 
never seen in the outer Himalaya. Far down in this mist of peacock 
loveliness, the stream foams white as silver, its roar coming up to the summits 
only as the vague and distant murmur of some great city. 

But there is neither city nor hamlet in this deep valley. It is the abode 
of solitude, and the haunt of the great eagles, whose gliding pinions lend 
it its only symptom of life. 

167 



158 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

Upon the upland meadows along which the track wanders, there are 
ponies at grass and mares with their whinnying foals, and soon now there 
will be flocks of white sheep by the thousand, established here for the hot 
summer that follows close upon the heels of winter. Already the snow has nearly 
gone, lying here and there only in drifts, and in its place there are fields of 
flowers of the brightest hues ; Primulas of violet, pink, and rose ; Anemones, 
white and violet black ; Gentians and other coloured beauties, while in 
their midst the butterflies flit more lovely than the flowers. Soon there 
will be here the blue Himalayan Poppy that blooms only at these great 
altitudes. 

And then one turns the corner, and there is the visible majesty of 
Haramukh, grey and snow-white and austere, with his blue gleaming glaciers 
falling in tumult towards Gungabal. Here at his feet, the world is stem 
and worn with the stress of Winter. The snow still lies upon the higher 
Downs, and from these, vast cataracts of stone descend with no touch of 
earth to lend them grace. Yet the listening ear may hear beneath their 
chaos the murmur of water hastening on its way to the forests and the 
meadows and the sea. Here amidst sentinel firs and twisted birch trees, 
in the company of birds and flowers and upon the lush teeming grass, we 
make our camp under a sky of stainless blue, while far above the summit 
of Haramukh, the great eagles and the vultures wing their leisured and 
lordly flight. 

*. * 
* 

Towards evening the scene is changed. A storm blows up, the sky 
becomes dark with a great army of flying clouds, and the thunder roars 
like a battle about the majesty of Haramukh. Snow falls upon all the 
adjacent mountains, and Haramukh withdraws behind a veil of snow and 
mist. An old Roman here would have heard in the tumult the angry voice 
of the God, invaded in the privacy of his innermost retreats ; and it is indeed 
in this light that the pilgrims who toil up here from the thoroughfares of 
distant cities, regard the superb and invincible mountain. None to this 
day believe that his summit is approachable by human feet. 



TRONKHAL BY HARAMUKH 159 

Alone in the company of the great mountain and of the dark over- 
shadowing woods, one can enter with sympathy into such beliefs ; and 
there must be times in mid-winter when no human voice is heard in these 
precincts, and the great Peak is the nexus of terrible storms, when they 
must acquire a terrific reality. 

But at this season of early summer one is not long alone even here. 
Over the sky-line this forenoon, as I looked for my struggling coolies and 
baggage, there came a small horde of Bakarwals, with their flocks and 
their ponies, their tents, their women, and their children, and presently 
established themselves in the woods below me. I was glad to see them 
arrive ; but when, as is customary, I sent my man over to their camp for 
some goat's milk, they gave him harsh words and sent him back discomfited. 

" The milk we have here to-day," they said with loud exclamations, 
" we require for ourselves and our women and our children, and if the 
Maharajah himself sent for some we should refuse to let him have it; go 
to, and tell this to your Sahib." 

In such circumstances a personal interview is desirable, so I went out 
into the rain to the Bakarwal camp. Their fires were lit, some tents were 
already up, and the men gathered about me under the dripping firs, while 
the large-eyed women looked on, and the children wedged themselves in 
wherever there was space. 

" I have come to you," I said, " for a cup of milk." 

" Sir," they said, " it is impossible ; the great herd has gone on a 
day's march, and all there is we keep for ourselves — we can give you 
none." 

" Nevertheless," I replied, " I claim a cup of it," They looked at me 
with a frank interest. It was clear that someone must give way. They 
looked at one another ; their eyes wandered to my encampment, to the 
grey sky above, to the'falling rain. They gave way. 

" Go, Sir," said the spokesman of the tribe, " return to your tent ; 
stand here no longer in the rain ; and when our goats come in you shall 
have the milk you desire. Is not all that we have yours ? " 

A few minutes later the light before my tent door was darkened by a 
rough figure, who might have been Abraham himself with his flowing robes 



i6o THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

and blankets of sheep's wool, and in his two hands there was a foaming 
bowl of two quarts of milk. 

Thereupon he sat before me and conversed for an hour, telling 
me of his homestead in Rampur, and his love for the free wandering life 
on the mountains, the zest of changes of scene and water. 

" Only one thing is there that we fear, Sir," he said, " and that is your 
Law " ; and he spoke with a grave earnestness, as one who felt himself up 
against a mysterious and invisible force. 

" Do not think. Sir," he went on, " that we are wild people, careless 
of comfort. We carry tents and sleep upon warm blankets. Our lives are 
precious to us. And we are not alone — ^like you. We carry our wives 
and children with us, even the 'Nikka-shukas,' the little ones. This is our 
Home," and he swept a glance at the blue smoke and the tents of his people 
under the trees. 

He would take no payment, and he moved off with the air of a freeman, 
who had been a guest. When he had gone some way, the cook called 
after him to return and take payment ; but he waved him off. 

" Thy Master," he said, " is a Sahib, and for the milk I have offered 
him from my heart, I take no price. See to it, O cook ! that thou dost not 
enter it in thy account, and so cheat him and dishonour me." 

The night fell darkly, and long after the stars had issued I could see 
the fires of the Bakarwal encampment, and hear the faint cries of their 
children. Nearer about me my own followers were gathered about a fire 
of great blazing logs, warming their hands, happy after the day's toil, and 
heedless of the cold and rain. 

How can one be ungrateful to any of these people, who do so much for 
one, and are so willing to follow where they are led ? I know how much they 
are abused, but for my part let it be said here that I like these people, and 
would willingly forget their faults. 



CHAPTER XIV 

NUND KOL 

This was a great day for me, the memory of which must long survive in 
my recollection. As I left my camp at Tronkhal, I found a party of Gujars 
with their wives, children, ponies, and a herd of slate-hued buffaloes 
assembled on a hillock, to which they had come over night from the Vangat 
Valley. Crowded here together under the birch trees, the snow lying all 
about them and Haramukh resplendent beyond, they looked the very type 
of the nomad, seeking each day a new home. A stream flowing through 
great boulders lay across my path. From the green hill beyond it I took 
a last view of my camp below in the midst of the dark-pointing fir trees, 
of the Bakarwals moving slowly across the scene, and of the mighty world 
beyond, blue and snow-white, pinnacle after pinnacle, in a vast arc that 
culminated in the noble outlines of Kolahoi. And as I looked upon this 
great scene, a horseman came pricking across the downs at a good speed, 
and climbing up to the height upon which I stood revealed the features of 
the fine fellow I had talked with before my tent. He was in search he said 
of a pony that had strayed, and seeing me he had come to say farewell. — 
His tall form seated well in the saddle, while with one hand he sheltered his 
eyes as he searched the horizon for his missing animal, — ^the whole bulk 
and grandeur of Haramukh behind him — made a superb picture, as of 
some Bedawin who had migrated from his desert sands to this world of 
glaciers and fields of snow. 

He bade me adieu and galloped off upon his quest. 

Once more the horizon was void of life, as climbing a massive down that 
was like a whale with a white dorsal fin of snow, I descended to the bed of 
the stream that flowed between it and its neighbour across the valley. There, 

X 161 



i62 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

were no trees here and the landscape was grey and forlorn, with barren 
mountains splashed with snow encircling it in the direction of my advance. 
It may be as we are told that all impressions of nature are illusive, and that 
we project the thoughts of our own minds upon the world about us ; yet 
the woodlands always seem to me as much alive, as this grey world about 
the slopes of Haramukh seemed to me dead and miserable ; the scene of 
some great tragedy. 

The ' Morne plaine ' of Victor Hugo kept coming to my lips. . . . 



The scene was changed with dramatic swiftness as I reached the summit 
of the next ridge, for from there under its dorsal line of snow, I found a 
thousand sheep, moving as one across the sunlit grass to the shouts and cries 
of the shepherds and their wives ; while below them shimmering in the 
breeze there spread a forest of birch trees, green with the splendour of the 
spring. Far down at the bottom of the valley murmured a silver stream, 
spanned at intervals by a still surviving arch of snow, and as I followed 
its winding course, I saw that it came swiftly down from the heights beyond 
me, and passed under the beauty of the Birch woods to the shadowy velvet 
of the valley below. It was the Kankanai. And here again the splendour 
of Haramulch rose up with an almost conscious arrogance far above the 
world of detailed beauty at his feet. 

The Head-shepherd upon seeing me came hastening to where I stood, 
and lifting his voice high in lamentation threw himself prostrate at my feet. 

" Justice ! Justice ! " he called out, " Woe ! Woe ! ; the Gujars 
have beaten me, they have carried off my blankets by force, and the bridles 
of my ponies," and with this he set to and began beating himself violently 
about the face, while the tears streamed down his unwashed cheeks. 

Thus I learnt that in these far uplands might is right, that here as the 
saying goes ' The Mountain is the magistrate and the Pine is the policeman,' 
and that in the battle for these pasture lands the weaker or the less brave go 
to the wall. According to the Gujar who has recently built a summer hut 
in the forests, all these grazing grounds are his, and the Chaupan is a tres- 
passer to be beaten and evicted by violent means. According to the Chaupan, 



NUND KOL 163 

the Gujar is a foreign intruder upon his ancestral pastures, and a brute who 
resorts to force in defiance of what is right. The White Man who appears 
over the rim of the horizon, is thus .converted upon the instant into a Court 
of Appeal, 

From these scenes of rivalry and theatrical despair, I came once more 
to the deep soUtudes of Nature ; but here enwrapped in loveliness, for at 
the next rise the little lake of Nund Kol lay before me, translucent, edged 
with flowers, and flecked with ice-floes ; yet a mirror for the splendour of 
Haramukh and his superb descending cataracts of ice. 

And here my tent was pitched, its very floor carpeted with flowers, 
upon which it had been unfeeling — ' be dardi ' as the Emperor Jahangir 
observed upon a like occasion — ^to have spread a carpet. 

The Lake is a long narrow water shaped like an hour-glass. Upon 
the south it is bordered by one of those great dorsal fins which reach out 
from the base of Haramukh into the valley, and is here enveloped in snow, 
save where the lateral ribs of rock descending to the lake show black against 
its whiteness. At the Lake's back there is the whole stupendous mass of 
Haramukh and his falling glaciers. Its northern bounds are free from snow, 
and of a velvet green where the young grass is shooting forth. Upon the 
east the surplus of the lake finds an exit over a bar into the stream of the 

Kankanai. 

* * 

It is while sitting here absorbed in this view that spreads before me 
from under the flap of my tent, that I am invited by the God of 
Travel to look upon a scene of astonishing charm and originality ; some- 
thing that I have never seen before ; for as the day advances, the shepherds 
and their flocks driven by the wrath of their enemies embark upon an exodus, 
and I am to witness their passage of the waters. They have come slowly 
after me over the great ridges, their sheep bleating, their lambs filling the 
air with cries, their dogs barking, and their women afoot ; and they have 
travelled so far without mishap. But here they are stayed by the shining 
waters of the Lake, and the violence and depth of the stream that leaves it 
to fall into the roaring valley. One by one they come to a pause and assemble 



i64 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

in distress upon a bare promontory, uncertain how to proceed. The shep- 
herds decide that the stream cannot be forded, and that the only course is 
to make the wide circuit of the lake. And thus for the space of three hours 
the scene is enacted before me. 

Slowly the flock moves forward in single file, ever lengthening across 
the white lustre of the snow, furrowing its smooth surface ; the picture of 
a beaten and evicted people. Where the grass grows under the ribs of rock 
and the birch trees cluster, there they wait and cluster together, the bolder 
complacent, the more timid with their necks bent low, and their noses 
laid in dejection against the wall of snow. The shepherds coming up induce 
them with many cries to move forward, and so they pass on once more in 
a single line across the snow fans which fall from the glacier's edge to the 
waters of the Lake. They look here like ants upon a white surface, and so 
numerous are they that their leading files have accomplished the circuit 
before the last of the flock where it took shelter by the birch trees have begun 
to move. 

Above these humble creatures, which seem conscious of trespassing 
into the midst of cold and terrible arcana, there towers up into heaven a 
mountain seventeen thousand feet in height, the home of a God, whose 
majestic head is crowned with perpetual snow. One breath of his wrath 
would scatter them and fling them into the ice-cold waters, upon whose 
calm the floes and bergs sail with a serene indifference. Every incident 
— ^the moving flock, the falling cataracts of ice — is faithfully mirrored in 
the surface of the Lake. 



The flock had passed in safety and were at grass upon the lush meadows 
where the primulas and the buttercups bloom, when the day turned, and 
the sunlit morning became enveloped in the clouds and thunders of evening. 
Haramukh above his glaciers was veiled in tragic forms which climbed up 
and encompassed him about like an invading army. I felt that here were 
epic contests, and the strivings of a world of which I had no more than a 
surface impression. 

Near at hand a big stream from Gungabal came raging over boulders 




THE JTLOCK AT PEACE. 



NUND KOL 165 

and gigantic rocks, and the sound of its action was like a base under- 
tone to which the hfe of this valley was attuned ; while beyond it with a 
greater pomp and mystery of sound was heard the blowing of the storm 
high up amidst the caverns and pinnacled recesses of the mountain. 

The Lake itself was but the humble slave of the God, the reflection of 
his moods ; now a sheet of silver in which his grey ribs and sun-clad summits 
were imaged ; now an angry water driven by dark and mysterious passions ; 
and yet again a leaden and sombre thing, with no ray of joy or life upon 



its face 

* * 

* 



As night approached, I left the shelter of my tent to look about me. 
How great was the change from the sunlight and splendour of the morning ! 
Great gulfs of mist were moving up the valley as from a cauldron, and the 
edges of the clouds hung low and brooding over the little lake, hidden almost 
completely now from sight. The soil under my feet as I walked towards 
Gungabal was spongy with the winter snow and wet with rain, and the 
sentiment of what I looked upon from the ridge above my tent, was of a 
world that was emerging, but was scarcely yet emerged, from an earlier 
state. 

Gungabal spread gloomy and dark before me, and at one end his over- 
flow formed the stream that was thundering down to the lower water. 
The sodden earth was streaked with layers and folds of snow. Under the lea 
of a large boulder the shepherds were seated, three men and three women— 
the youngest of these a girl of striking and almost classical beauty, in a 
faded pink robe that may have been her wedding gown. They sat here 
heedless of the rain and the soaking earth beneath their feet. In a large 
cauldron a lamb was seething, the property of some anxious farmer in the 
vale. Across the stream where it emerged from Gungabal, two more shep- 
herds were crossing to collect the flock amidst the snow and mists of the 
mountain side. It was a scene of strange and savage desolation. 



Cold impenetrable regions, where the snow never nnelts, nor disappears." 

Alberuni. 



LAKE LAND 



CHAPTER XV 

THE FROZEN WATERS 

The rain made a sad night of it, but at dawn and for a brief hour after, the 
little lake of Nund Kol, which I had left wrapped in mystery and a chill 
reticent gloom, became a thing of radiant beauty. The morning sunlight 
played fitfully on it, and it smiled, a creature of infantile lovelines, radiant 
in exquisite harmonies, of white and silver where the glaciers of Haramukh 
were mirrored on its surface ; of silk-like greens where the meadows on its 
western shore reached down to its waters. Under the impulse of the morn- 
ing breeze the ice-floes were sailing across it in a fairy procession ; some of 
them like bergs of crystal purified of every taint. The sunlight played 
on the snow-fields and cataracts of the mountain with a joyous effect, that 
was heightened by the impenetrable gloom of his summits ; and at 
my feet as I stood rejoicing at the elfin scene before me, there blossomed 
by the edge of the Lake and its moving ships of ice, a small field of the most 
vivid flowers, but newly come to birth. 

I took my way to Gungabal, and there, upon a promontory, above its 
outflowing waters, I found the whole flock of two thousand sheep, whose 
exodus and circuit of the little lake had so engrossed my attention the 
previous day, assembled, bleating and moving restlessly, as though awaiting 
their orders for the day. 

Nor were these long in coming. The old shepherd and his pretty 
women disengaged themselves from the flock, and forded the river across 
to where I was standing ; while the younger shepherds whistling and calling 
to their sheep moved off like a cloud to the upland pastures. I knew not 
upon which of these groups to bestow my principal attention ; the flock 
in its multitudinous beauty moving against the marvellous background 

167 



i68 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

of glaciers and the organ-like pillars of the mountain, or the women, followed 
by a single ewe, slowly crossing the blue and sparkling river whose waters 
circled and played about their knees. For it was as though some one had 
given a signal for the scene of almost still life, which met my gaze as I came 
over the crest of the hill, to break up into the most lively and enchanting 
beauty in movement. 

It was with a sigh of regret that I turned away at last on the comple- 
tion of these leisured scenes, to the fulfilment of my journey. My path 
now lay along the edge of Gungabal, and from there rapidly passed up the 
steep side of the mountain, from which the whole circuit and environment 
of the lake were visible. It seemed to my fancy like Garda in miniature, 
with its low shores at one end and its fiord of deep blue water at the other ; 
and more than once as I stopped in my climb to look down upon the end 
of the lake, I was reminded of that incomparable Italian water. Yet how great 
were the differences which marked this similarity ; one, a little mountain 
tarn, white upon its floor with dead men's bones, and wrapped in solitudes 
that weigh almost painfully upon the spirit ; the other endeared to one by 
so many human and cherished associations, the home of Catullus and of 
Vergil ; one, for all its littleness, ennobled by the overshadowing majesty 
of one of the great mountains of the world, the dread home of a God ; the 
other, for all its sea-like expanse and tumult of waters, bordered by heights 
which however beautiful and inspiring, rise to little more than a thousand 
feet ! I could not help wishing — since it is in such desires that Art is born 
— that I could rearrange some of these natural scenes ; by adding to the 
Italian lake the splendours of Haramukh, and to this secret Himalayan 
water some touch of human emotion. 

As I looked down upon Gungabal and its slate-blue hues, I was charmed 
once more by the passage across it of the ice-floes, and I could see from this 
vantage point, how, in advance of each floe and berg as it was driven by 
the breeze behind it, there was a passage way of calm upon the rippling sur- 
face of the lake. My attention was rather drawn to these lesser beauties, from 
the fact that the morning was by now heavily overcast with clouds, behind 
which I could only faintly discern the superb panorama of icy-peaks 
and mountain chains which, upon a more fortunate occasion, must have 



THE FROZEN WATERS 169 

greeted my eyes. As it was, the mists came drifting down the mountain- 
side enveloping me, and my last impression of Gungabal was of a grey 
sadness, over which a pair of cuckoos went flying, singing their woodland 
notes, till they also were engulfed in the fathomless mist. 

Thus might the souls of lovers be swept into the dread mists of Acheron, 

I was by now far up the mountain, plodding slowly through the snow 
which still lay in masses upon it, when I came upon Lolgool, white, solitary, 
and still as death. No bird sang here, no flowers had yet begun to bloom, 
no tree nor shrub nor patch of grass graced its borders. No life moved 
within its precincts. The snow swept down to its rim in sheets and folds of 
Whiteness. Yet the sentiment was not of Death but of life held in suspense ; 
the legend of the Sleeping Beauty. 

A fortnight earlier there could have been no hint of an awakening ; 
but at the moment of my visit, there were visible, when the first impression 
had worn away, faint signs and traces of coming life. The central whiteness 
of the pool was marked with circles and sweeping curves, where the icy 
mass was breaking up, and upon its fringe it was manifest that Winter 
was reluctantly yielding his grip. The ice here had broken from its moor- 
ings, and the ivory surface of the lake was ringed about with a narrow 
border that was half ice, half pale clear water ; while at the far end, where 
its surplus seeks an exit in mid-summer, there was an open pool of exquisite 
lustre in which I could trace at once the stones and pebbles of its floor, and 
the snow-white forms of the mountains that were imaged in it. 

The sky was grey and overcast, and the white mists enclosed the arena 
of the lake, now blowing down to its edge and half concealing its beauty, 
now lifting as though to display it ; while here and there the still, opaque, 
sheets and masses of snow gleamed with a sudden and burnished radiance 
as of silver, where the light of Day was concentrated for an instant through 
the lifting mists. 

I turned from this unlooked-for scene, devoid of all human associations, 
and climbed up the steep and difficult path to the summit of the hill before 
me, to find there a wall that wandered across the Col from crest to crest, 
with a manifest fear as of Someone who was seeking to enter from 
without. 



lyo THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

It would seem in truth that in by-gone days this wall served some 
purpose of defence: that men with hearts beating crouched behind it, 
looking for those who would come over this roof of the world, to ravage the 
smiling vale behind, that men died here, that the crimson and white were 
mingled, and that Lolgool carried the burden of the dead. 

The view that met me on reaching the crest of the Col was in startling 
contrast with that which I had left behind. For at the foot of the great 
snow slide that swept a thousand feet below me, there spread a blue-green 
valley full of birch trees, with dark enclosing mountains about it, and a 
view of peak after peak to the crowning summit of all ; the far-famed Nanga 

Parbat. 

It seemed as though I had naught to do now but glide upon the snow, 
and follow the emerging river into the beauties of the valley. But 
I was soon to find that the principal difficulties of my journey still lay 

before me. 

The Snow lay soft and deep under foot, truculent, engulfing ; and it 
all but swallowed for ever the unfortunate pony who accompanied me. It 
was with no little difficulty that he was extricated from its toils, only to 
fall into them once more, after, with trembling limbs, he had travelled 
a short way. This process was continued, until we eventually reached a 
grassy knoll where I stopped to rest, but there were moments when he lay 
helpless in the snow and unable to move, and when it seemed that his life 
must come to an end. He appeared to be unaware however of his escape, 
for he fell-to without delay upon the grass. 

I passed an hour here upon this island, looking down, on the one hand, 
upon Sirbal white with ice, but a week or two nearer his escape from the 
rigours of winter than Lolgool ; and upon his pools which mirrored with a crystal 
definition the glaciers and masses of rock above him. For a brief space 
also I could trace the little stream which bore away his surplus waters, 
sparkling over the pebbles, only to fall once more in its descent under the 
dominion of the snow. Upon my other hand I could see these waters emerging 
and flowing across a small oval plain, that was in its time also a lake ; but 
is now become a meadow, marshy in places, beautiful in others with flowers 
and the loops and curves of the meandering stream. Here was the Vale of 



THE FROZEN WATERS 171 

Kashmir in miniature and the winding course of the Vetasta perfectly 
exempUfied. 

I spent here a bhssful hour of repose after the strivings of the forenoon ; 
while a little lark singing above Sirbal was the only creature that had life 
in the vast circle of the world about me. 

I had fancied when I reached the Col and looked down upon the blue- 
green valley below me that all that remained for me was to go down to it 
and accompany it on its way ; but I soon found that this was not the case. 
For this was not the Erin valley for which I was bound, but another, and my 
road lay up a steep and precipitous ascent to another pass some fourteen 
thousand feet in height. Far in the distance like flies upon its white 
wall I could see my coolies creeping with their loads, and all else about 
me was a silent and snow-covered world. 

I faced this new climb with reluctance, and I found it best to follow 
without looking up towards the summit of the Pass, the footsteps 
of those who had gone before me, and were now lost to sight. Yet the 
slow plugging toil of the ascent was lightened for me by the exceeding 
beauty of the snow, where it came from the great shoulders of Hara- 
mukh, tumbling a thousand feet in dome-like cascades and fountains 
of perfect form. Its surface was wrought into millions of fine lines 
furrowed by the recent rain, and into ridges where the wind and sun 
had played. Here also were miniature tarns that still lay helpless in 
the grasp of winter, and I wondered if even at the height of summer they 
ever saw the sky. 

When at length I reached the Col up to which I had climbed for two 
hours, and saw before me the straight wall of some twenty feet of snow 
which marked its summit, I once more fancied that I should look from it 
upon a land of Canaan smiling upon its other side ; but all that I saw was 
a grey and bottomless pit of mist that seemed to have its birth in the very 
bowels of the world. 

The ridge was like a knife, and from it the snow fell almost vertically 
down into this misty void. Down this strange place out of which there 
came like voices from the nether world, the cries of the coolies, we 
descended foot by foot, now down the perilous shaly slope, now upon the 



172 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

sliding snow, until, exhausted by the long day's way-faring we reached the 
green and level vale of Chitridur. We had been twelve hours on the march. 

Here set about with birch woods that were splashed with snow, and 
enclosed upon all sides, save one, by the great heights from which we had 
come, spread a scene of pastoral beauty. Across the peaty levels of 
the vale, a river wandered in loops and curves, herds of ponies and brood 
mares grazed, and flocks of white sheep flecked the grassy slopes. Here 
were reproduced for me the sights and scenes of the Pla des Abeillans, that 
one-time lake in the high Pyrenees that is now a level of turf, the haunt of 
browsing cattle and of a meandering stream. The same causes have pro- 
duced here the same result. 



CHAPTER XVI 

THE ERIN VALLEY 

My camp was pitched by some freak of my people, three miles below the 
Vale of Chitridur, where there are some Gujar huts, the first habitations of 
the valley. But these were not yet occupied, and I had the mountain-side 
to myself. Upon the soil where my tent was placed, there grew in abundance 
the little but lovely purple flag, and a sort of black tulip. Beyond these 
from my tent-door spread the valley, rapidly descending through dark 
woods to the Wular lake, of which in the soft evening light, and under the 
lifting clouds, I had an enticing vision. Beside me thundered the river, 
eager, impetuous, green in its pools, white with foam in its cataracts. 
Upon the farther bank there was a multitude of Birch trees, prostrate under 
the assaults of winter, and nearer at hand upon a slope that was sheltered 
by dark cypress-like firs, was a field of white Rhododendrons, fluttering 
in the breeze. An armful of them strung together like a garland was brought 
by Mahamdoo and suspended before my tent ; and there they revolved, 
displaying their pink and white beauty and their mottled grace. 

They were something of a solace too, for the sky overhead was grey with 
clouds, and a fine continuous rain, that was worthy of the dear island whose 
name the Valley bears, hid its vistas. 

The night was dull and wet, and the morning unpromising. We set 
out at noon down the valley ; but the rain fell with a deadly obstinacy, 
and the footpath down the steep hill-side became all but impracticable. 
We slipped and floundered upon its clayey surface, moving patiently foot 
by foot; and each moment our burdens became heavier with the mud and 
the rain. 

Upon the great snowy uplands there was beauty and danger ; and in 

173 



i74 TME CHARM OF KASHMIR 

a snow-storm there is always the possibility of death; but rain — such rain 
as this— is like the lesser troubles of life, which wear upon the spirit without 
rousing it to battle. 

We arrived a sodden and dejected fraternity at Kodoora, the first 
hamlet in the Erin valley. But here the sun broke upon us with a splendid 
glow, the lane of sky above the valley became blue, and we pursued our 
journey to the village of Sunt Mula, to find shelter there, and peace. 

With the passing of the rain there came also the added charm of human 
associations and human effort. The track which higher up had made our 
progress so wearisome, smoothened and widened itself as we went. Ease- 
ments in the form of little bridges spanned the brooks we had to cross ; 
willows, walnuts, and slim young poplars added their grace to the dark 
natural wood-land, and at Kodoora a Ziarat, or place of prayer, spoke of 
man's strivings after communion with his God, and by its beauty and grace 
of his love of craftsmanship. It had a sweet rural charm of its own, with its 
balcony projecting over the millet fields, and its roof of green grass ; yet 
by one coming up the valley from great centres, it might have been passed 
unnoticed. To us who came upon it from tracts where Nature, cold 
and menacing, scarce permits the presence of man, it was touching in its 
whisper of the Soul. 

Kodoora is the home of Gujars or cattle-herds, who within the past 
dozen years have settled at this far end of the valley. At Sunt Mula 
one is in Kashmir, and the types of the houses, the faces and forms of the 
men and women, the very character of the people, are manifestly unlike 
those at Kodoora two miles above. It is more than a surface distinction ; 
for centuries of custom and tradition, and differences of race that are many 
thousands of years old, , separate these people from each other. 



'fr^H?. 



THE SHEPHERD 



CHAPTER XVII 

CONCLUSION OF THE JOURNEY 

And now my journey in the mountains is at an end. It is noon, and I am at 
peace with the world, in a Mulberry grove whose fruit draws here the Golden 
Orioles. Now and then one flies like a billow of gold in the sunlight, from 
one tree to another ; now and then the slumberous silence is broken by the 
liquid music of his note. From afar off, faintly, like voices from another 
land, comes the refrain of the Weeders in the rice-fields as they work and 
sing in unison. . . . 

A breeze from Paradise blows through the branches of the trees, 
tempering the noon 

My journey is over, and in the sunlight yonder gleams the Wular, a 
purple water. Beyond it my roving eyes can trace green fields and woods, 
and the high azure and silver of the Pir Pantsal, which I have scarce 
looked upon for a month. 

The bees are humming, and half asleep I enjoy the repose of the way- 
farer, the tranquil grace of a summer's day. 

Now and then the people pass ; a lad with some sheep ; a man upon 
his travels. , . . Simulacra of reality. What are they to me ? 



* 



Crossing the Wular. The boat moves through symphonies of mauve, 
pursuing its placid timeless voyage across the satin water, where clouds 
and mountains dream, and ponies wallow amidst lush meadows and marshes, 
knee-deep amidst a blaze of flowers. Here is a carpet of gold under the 

175 



176 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

purple mountains, and herons lazily flapping their wings as they fly. Here 
the lake terns flit in their pied velvet jackets and sweeping tails amidst 
the water-lilies, and the carrion eagles loom like islands above the expanse 
of water. The surface of the Lake is a mirror, but with a pattern of its 
own, where the singaras lie like lace upon its surface. The fishermen, lifting 
their shining nets, fling the hapless fish that have been raped from the 
shallows, to die in the cruel lustre of the sun. The island of Zain-ul-abi- 
Din, with its ruins hidden under the wild vine, speaks of forgotten kings 
and days reverted to the womb of time. Somewhere in the deeps there 
is a city, like the doomed city of Ys, now lost to the sight of men. . . . 

From things like these we pass to open water, and I am led to think that 
there is no life like this silken life upon the waters of the valley. Half do I 
regret that I ever left my House-boat for the hard road and the upland toil 
of the mountains. 

For this is Kashmir. 

See the clouds, changing from moment to moment as they climb the 
stairways of Heaven, throwing their shadows on the sun-lit blue of the 
mountains, now white and opalescent as they expand, now grey and sombre 
as they fill with rain above the silver crests of Apharwat. 

See the long avenues of the far Highway, where the world passes as 
in a dream ; the boats laden with people as they cross from shore to shore, 
the cattle lowing to the plash of oars, the images of trees upon the shining 
fringes of the lake, the patriarchal Chinar and the virginal Willow. 

See how the great storms gather and blow upon the mighty uplands, 
while here the gentle breeze kisses the up-turned face of the water. 

This is the subtle, elusive, silken life of Kashmir. 

This it is which makes the Happy Valley " the Paradise of the Indies." 
Voluptuous and beautiful, a gliding dream ; a land for lovers ; a land in which 
man can be happy, heedless of the hours, of the thronging World ; a land 
that is for ever whispering through its zephyrs, its wavelets on the waters, 
of love and dalliance and the careless enjoyment of life. Such is Kashmir. 

The mountains beckon through the sun-haze, and the silver snows 
call the dwellers of the valley to their immortal company as of the Gods 
assembled ; but they say 




.MUL.M.U.\ I'A.^i Li; 



CONCLUSION OF THE JOURNEY 177 

"No! our lot is here; here will we live in perpetual ease, in the slumber- 
ous passion and enjoyment of life. Neither toil nor striving are for us, 
for here is the fulfilment of Desire," 



Finis 



Have conversation with the wind that goes 
Bearing a pack of loveliness and pain : 
The Golden exultation of the grain 
And the last, sacred whisper of the Rose. 

Abu'l-Ala. 



EPILOGUE 

In the preceding pages I have tried to describe the beauty and the charm 
of Kashmir. I have not aimed at writing a comprehensive account of this 
wonderful valley, that is unique in the world ; or of the great mountains 
which encircle it ; or of its tragic history and vicissitudes ; or of the people 
whose home it has been from immemorial days. Nor have I wished to 
depict any more than I saw them, the shadows which darken the picture 
of its grace. To some of them I have closed my eyes, as one closes them, 
if one is wise, to the infirmities of those one loves. Yet I would not have it 
thought that in this paradise there is no grief or sordidness or pain, for 
that would be untrue to its life, as to that of all created things. 

Alas ! if the record of Kashmir be read aright, it is a moving tale, of 
human infirmity, of human sins ; and there are not many races in the world 
upon whom the hand of Fate has been laid so heavily as upon those who 
inhabit this, perhaps the fairest comer of the earth. 

Kashmir in truth has paid the price of beauty, that ' fatal gift ' of which 
the poets have sung from early time ; and she has paid it an hundred fold. 
Those who have lived here have fallen under her caresses as men fell of old 
tmder the wiles of Circe ; and those without, born under a ruder heaven, 
have coveted her joys with a fierce desire, and have seized upon her treasuries 
with unstinted hand. It is under the stress of such events that the character 
of her people has been evolved ; and it is a character that is not noble or 
beautiful, though deserving of sympathy and help from those who 
have had a happier destiny. There have been times when the life of 
a man in this land has been held of little more value than the life of a dog ; 
when the fairest of its women — and its women have long been renowned 
for their beauty— have been carried off not once or twice but generation 

179 ' 



i8o THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

after generation " to fill the bagnios and the harems " of Hindustan. Neither 
their lives, nor their property, nor their honour have been left to this 
unfortunate pjeople in the past. 

It is only of late, within the present generation and within the past 
few years, that the clouds have lifted and that they have begun to raise 
their heads from the dust of centuries of oppression ; and though they 
know that this change has really come and is like to stay, they cannot yet 
in their hearts believe in its duration. Children of light and of a land beauti- 
ful beyond the dreams of ordinary men, a profound sadness is visible in 
their eyes, and in the workings of their spirit ; and a great fear still lingers 
in their hearts. This fear is extraordinary in its manifestations ; it assails 
men of gigantic frame and energy, and I have myself wondered to see 
such an one tremble all over his body (as a thorough-bred hunter may be 
seen quivering by the covert-side when hounds are at work on a winter's 
morning ; but with how different an emotion !) at the sound of an angry 
voice. Such a fear and such memories, of necessity provoke qualities of 
character and temperament upon which those whose past has been happier, 
are prone to look down with anger and a measureless contempt ; 
but even in these respects, a marked difference is visible even to 
a careless eye, between the people of the fields and hamlets, and 
those of the city, and between the former in their intercourse with each 
other, and in their intercourse with those who are of the State, or who 
come with an air of power and authority into their midst. 

Beautiful also as is the country, its beauty is marred by some of the 
habits of the people, by dirt and physical neglect. Even the beauty of the 
women is hidden for the most part under sombre and unattractive garments, 
as though experience had taught the race the virtue of concealment. Whether 
from this or from other causes, even the existence of this famous beauty 
is questioned by many observers. 

" It is difficult," as some one has said, " for a woman to be beautiful " ; 
and it has been made very difficult for her in Kashmir. 

Certainly the men are often strikingly handsome ; and there are no 
childiien in the world with brighter eyes or prettier faces than those of the 
valley of Kashmir. 



EPILOGUE i8i 

The farmers and country people, since Sir Walter Lawrence's settle- 
ment and the completion of the Gilgit Road — that via dolorosa upon which 
so many hearts were broken — have come into the natural prosperity that 
awaits any settler upon so bountiful a soil ; but there is still much and even 
acute poverty and misery in the City, which in by-gone days battened 
upon the country-side. Disease also is yet unevicted ; and from time to 
time Cholera sweeps through the valley, and fills the hearts of the people 
with gloom. But the day is near at hand when such miseries will have 
ceased, as indeed they have already been greatly diminished under the 
ministration of unselfish souls. 



Happy as my own stay in Kashmir was, it was not without its griefs. 
I will record but two, lest the preceding narrative should partake too much 
of the colour of the rose. The one was a tragedy — for it affected me in that 
way — which befell a way-side place in the interval between my arrival in 
the valley and my departure. This place bore the name of Chinari, because 
of the beauty of its great Planes, the first the traveller was wont to see in 
Kashmir. They stood one upon each side of the road, and under their 
shadow there had grown up a small bazaar of little wooden houses, with the 
charm of a mountain hamlet, and of a way -side place that had existed from 
the leisured age of the Emperors. It was, I thought, the most attractive 
stage on the long road into Kashmir. I looked for it eagerly, therefore, upon 
my return ; when, as the Motor turned the corner, I found that it had dis- 
appeared from existence. The little houses with their oriels and verandahs 
were a heap of ashes, and the great chinars, once so stately, rose into the 
air, gaunt and lifeless, the very skeletons of departed beauty. 

And the other incident — indeed I feel some hesitation in mentioning 
it at all — took me at BaramuUa as I was leaving the valley. For there, by the 
still face of the river, along its high embankment, there walked a slight figure, 
with a black mantilla over her silvery head, and about her like an aureole 
the inalienable grace of an English gentle-woman. She walked a little 
feebly, resting with her innocent air upon the arm of a native servant, and 
as I approached she flushed a little, at the thought I suppose of addressing 



i82 THE CHARM OF KASHMIR 

a stranger — and I could see that grief was upon her, for with all her high 
grace and coiu-age, her lips trembled — and she said : — 

" I beg your pardon, sir ; but have you — perhaps — as you come from 
Srinagar — seen the last list of Casualties from the Dardanelles ? " 

" You see," she added wistfully, " my son — my youngest — is there. 
My eldest boy was killed in Flanders. ... I have come up here because I 
have been ill, and the Doctors advised the quiet of Kashmir." 



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